AbstractThis thesis contends that Critical Posthumanism and Science Fiction studies are symbiotic academic disciplines, which both stand to benefit significantly from critical approaches that accurately recognise their dialogic resonances. It contends that the posthuman qualities of SF texts are manifest rhetorically, rather than simply within their narrative schema. The Introduction argues that Posthumanist disciplines often undervalue SF texts, as a result of a common misconception that the genre is insufficiently posthuman. Likewise, SF critics have long disregarded texts’ mundane elements in lieu of an eschatological focus upon their novel technologies. As I proceed to outline, a new posthumanistic conception of the internal mechanics of SF is not only overdue, but also key to conceptualising our Anthropocene epoch. The thesis therefore proceeds to provide demonstrative posthumanistic readings of works by a number of canonical SF authors. Chapter 1 inaugurates this project in practice by undertaking a textual analysis of a series frequently regarded as the keystone of Golden Age SF. The diegetic metaverse established within Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Robot stories, I argue, comprises a future history which overtly gestures towards the profoundly everyday character of our posthuman futures. By taking notice of the banal elements of Asimov’s narratives, we newly discern their futuristic extrapolation of everyday life. Meanwhile, Chapter 2 examines the repetitive qualities of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle. Taking the series as an exemplar of New Wave SF, it explores the pluralistic ways in which Le Guin’s seminal series gestures towards the primacy of daily life to the posthuman. In addition to textual analysis, this chapter undertakes a concordance analysis of the series, further demonstrating the manner in which its data prove just as vital as its nova. Moving towards a consideration of contemporary written SF, Chapter 3 analyses the posthuman qualities of Kim Stanley Robinson’s oeuvre. The palimpsestuous qualities of Robinson’s future histories, in particular, gesture towards his mundanely-embedded figuration of the posthuman future. In the process of delineating the Anthropocenic interventions of Robinson’s novels, the chapter concludes with a comparative analysis of variant forms of his omnibus Green Earth, evidencing the penetration of environmental nova into our everyday lives. Finally, Chapter 4 explores the repetitive schema of two prominent televisual SF texts, claiming that their participatory qualities significantly alter the textual positionality of their audiences. This chapter begins by analysing the Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat eras of the BBC television series Doctor Who, before undertaking an autoethnography of the videogame Outer Wilds. In a science-fictional fashion, the Conclusion of the thesis underlines its ecocritical value for a world whose near future will be increasingly devastated by starkly novel climactic phenomena.
CitationHay, J. (2022). Novelty fades: Science fiction and posthumanism [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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