Tag: Dystopia

Orange Alert

In our post-9/11 era, the phrase “national security” has become all too familiar. A simple Google search yields over 361,000,000 results, ranging from the National Security Council homepage to op-eds ...

Afrofuturism: Everything and Nothing

Whence the “Afro” in “Afrofuturism”? In the 1994 interview with Samuel R. Delaney that inaugurated the term, Mark Dery defines Afrofuturism as “speculative fiction that treats African American themes ...

Chick Lit Meets the Avant-Garde

Ask the average critic, professor, or reader to name an experimental novelist and they will more likely name a man—Pynchon, DeLillo, Foster Wallace—than a woman—Tillman, Winterson, Lessing. Ask them ...

Le Guin’s Anarchist Aesthetics

What makes readers fall in love? You might want to start your answer by explaining Ursula Le Guin. I can only speak for one childhood—and one adulthood—spent reading Le Guin, but I’d bet my last ...

Drought Lit

For the last several summers I’ve spent August in the Central Valley of California, swimming twice a day and eating guacamole for dinner. During the same last few years, the state’s drought, already ...

Searching for Purpose

Near-extinction stories are nearly as old as the human species, from Noah’s flood to 20th-century narratives about nuclear holocaust (1950s–60s) and pandemics (1970s–80s), to the current spate of ...

A Global Neuromancer

Neuromancer is now more than 30 years old, a considerable time to remain a classic. Its publication in the Orwellian year will seem ironic and laden with symbolism only for those who think Orwell has ...

The Post-Apocalyptic Present

Post-apocalyptic fiction used to be disreputable, a source of pulpy thrills and nuclear terror. Flourishing in the post-World War II period, works like Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow (1955), John ...

Sleep and Synchronicity

Two spectacularly haunting new works of fiction share a frightening and resonant premise: a world in which sleep is disappearing. Insomnia has a storied history, of course, as both ailment and plot ...

Shakespeare Off the Grid

Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel, Station Eleven, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction, depicts a world radically depopulated by a vicious outbreak of superflu. A traveling ...

Adventure Capitalists

William Gibson has become a reluctant prophet for cyberculture. Although his early work failed to imagine some technological particulars (like the smart phone), he foresaw that cyberspace—a term he ...

Kids in Cages

In June 2011, the State of California permanently shut down the Preston Youth Correctional Facility, a reform school for orphans and juvenile offenders that had been in operation for over a century ...

What’s the Matter with Dystopia?

Dystopia is flourishing. In the process, it is becoming routine and losing its political power. If current fiction is to be believed, postapocalyptic wastelands will in the not too distant future be ...

Global Warming and Network Think

On August 26th, 2014, in the lead-up to the United Nations summit scheduled for the following month, the New York Times carried a story on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest draft ...

Complicity and Critique

In a posh Delhi neighborhood, in a walled estate with glass chandeliers and bathrooms of Italian marble, a 25-year-old heir to his family’s business and real estate fortune dreams of transforming the ...

Writing Technology

Read my blog, please, but don’t dare peek into my diary. Even though these two genres employ some of the same conventions—a diurnal relation to time, a preoccupation with subjective experience—one is ...