Recovering elsewhere: The postmodern ecotopia
Dickson, Jennifer Rain
MetadataShow full item record
Postmodern and ecocritical theorists have long sought to stake a claim on Science Fiction texts. Ecologically-oriented science fiction utopias are fertile ground for both disciplinary fields, because they deal directly with the interpenetration of the social and the political through a genre-specific world-building process. World-building can serve as a window into human relations with other subjects and spaces. On some level, all theory is an investigation or interpretation of world-building practices. The way a text—and particularly a science fiction text—constructs its environments can give us insight into the relationships (and perceived relationships) between physical and social spaces. These relationships are often constructed in terms of boundaries and contacts—the relationship between characters and social groups and the space they inhabit, or fail to inhabit, and the way that these spaces and subjects mutually constitute one another. The malleability of social and power infrastructures in science fiction makes this particularly interesting, and opens up the texts to a variety of purposes and readings that touch on fundamental issues of subjectivity and environmental perception, responsibility, and interaction. Because their project is explicitly linked to the exploration of political and social problems, the science fiction utopia is an ideal genre for the application of both ecocritical and postmodern readings. For the purposes of this thesis, we will focus on two critical utopias/heterotopias—Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. Both novels explicitly include ecology as central to their world-making and sociopolitical projects, and provide productive spaces for exploring the ways that ecocriticism/postmodernism/SF utopias work together.