• Afrofuturism and Splendor & Misery

      Hay, Jonathan (British Science Fiction Association, 2019-09-29)
      A countercultural movement characterised by a dynamic understanding of the narrative authority held by texts, Afrofuturism rewrites African culture in a speculative vein, granting African and Afrodiasporic peoples a culturally empowered means of writing their own future. This article examines the manner by which clipping.'s 2016 album Splendor & Misery-a conceptual hip-hop space opera-freely enlists and reclaims texts from the African cultural tradition in order to manifest its Afrofuturist agenda. The process by which Afrofuturism reclaims and rewrites culture is paralleled within Splendor & Misery through the literary device of mise en abyme; just as the album itself does, its central protagonist rewrites narratives of African cultures and traditions in an act of counterculture.
    • Fully Optimized: The (Post)human Art of Speedrunning

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      Over time, speedrunning communities work collaboratively to optimize, reconfigure, and improve upon the quickest possible completion times of video game titles. I argue that this progressive ethos, coupled with the performative nature of modern speedrunning, lends a distinctly artistic character to the practice. Speedrunning is a form of (post)human expression that is manifested not only through the programming of a video game, but also through players’ approach to gameplay. By choosing to speedrun, players actively impose a discrete temporal limit on the inhuman algorithms of video games, and so attempt to conquer and thereby curtail their technological novelty. However, within the field of game studies, the literature published on speedrunning to date is almost unilaterally anthropocentric, and focuses on the transgressive nature of the practice, ignoring the intricacies of its technological fundament. Rather, (post)humans and technologies interact in a transformational manner through intra-active assemblages, broadening the condition of embodiment. To theorize a posthumanistic theory of the practice, this article takes as its focus the speedrunning community of the video game Super Mario Odyssey and suggests that speedrunning may ultimately be considered a mode of (post)human performance art.
    • Introduction

      Hay, Jonathan; Bonsall, Amy; Ashton, Bodie A.; University of Chester; University of Manchester; University of Adelaide
      Bodies occupy a paradoxical space in modern society. On the one hand, the body is the most obvious and visible medium used to represent and express ourselves and our identities. On the other hand, this importance also leaves the body open to being controlled, regulated and interpreted. The result of this uncomfortable balance is that body diversity remains at once embraced and vulnerable, and the expression of that diversity is encouraged by some, while also being the subject of the prejudice of others. This chapter acts as an introduction for nine interdisciplinary, international essays, each engaging with the theme of “the body”, broadly defined. It thus lays the groundwork for a volume in which the body not only speaks but is heard and listened to.
    • No Windup: Paolo Bacigalupi’s Novel Bodily Economies of the Anthropocene

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      Just as it looms large in contemporary consciousness, the figure of the Anthropocene dominates the speculative fiction of the Hugo and Nebula award winning author Paolo Bacigalupi. The post-apocalyptic and post-capitalist settings common to Bacigalupi’s oeuvre do not merely seek to depict unsettling Anthropocene landscapes. Rather, Bacigalupi’s speculative fiction vicariously demonstrates the crucial role that embodiment plays, and will continue to play, in determining the impact of the Anthropocene upon human life. Our bodies, his works propose, are both the fabric upon which the horrors of the Anthropocene will be written, and the means by which we can learn to adapt to the rigors of our rapidly shifting planetary environment. As such, Bacigalupi’s works propose a range of novel bodily economies, which are just as much potential alternatives to the damaging neoliberal ideologies of our contemporary world as they are statements of impending social upheaval and widespread human suffering. Through the textual analysis of a cross-section of Bacigalupi’s works, this article demonstrates his emphasis upon the urgency and importance of our own societies learning to construct and implement alternate economic paradigms.
    • (Post)human Temporalities: Science Fiction in the Anthropocene

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester (Brill, 2019-09-24)
      Although many SF texts proceed from the speculative premise that our species will continue to develop technologically, and hence become increasingly posthuman, our species’ continuance into even the next century is by no means assured. Rather, the Anthropocene exerts a new temporal logic; it is an age defined by an intensification of geological timescales. It is therefore noteworthy that many contemporary SF texts are ecologically interventionist and figure apocalyptic future temporalities which curtail the posthuman predilection common to the genre. This article analyses a tetrad of literary texts, written at various points during the last three decades, which summatively reveal the mutations of the (post)human temporalities figured by cli-fi texts. These four texts are: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (1992-1996); Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007); Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things (2014); and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (2015).
    • The Posthuman Lifeworld: A Study of Russell T. Davies’s Doctor Who

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester
      Via the analysis of a cross-section of episodes from Russell T. Davies’s era of the revived BBC Science Fiction television series Doctor Who (2005–2010), this paper demonstrates that the programme utilises representations of the viewer’s everyday lifeworld to figure a posthuman rhetoric. Through the viewer’s in-phenomenal interaction with its representation of the mundane, the show emphasises the already significantly posthuman nature of the technologically saturated lifeworld of the contemporary individual. It challenges Darko Suvin’s notion of cognitive estrangement, which fails to describe the show’s Science Fictional discourse, and instead proposes the alternate mechanism of cognitive engagement. This inquiry, therefore, reappraises the thematic concerns of the show during the years when Russell T. Davies served as the programme’s showrunner, revealing Doctor Who’s emphasis upon the everyday (post)human lifeworld. It concludes that the show refutes technocentric ideologies, and thus rigorously demonstrates the consonance between the (post)human present and posthuman future.
    • Queer Victorian Identities in Goblin Market (1862) and In Memoriam (1850): Uncovering the Subversive Undercurrents of the Literary Canon

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester (University of Exeter, 2018)
      This article argues for the importance of recognizing the queerness of many established works within the literary canon as a means of contextualising modern queer identities and practices historically. It undertakes the queer reappropriation of two canonical Victorian poems; Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1862), and Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam (1850). As the article demonstrates, the queer affective features of these poems express the viability of alternative modes of relation, and so convey a poignant sense of the insurrectionary elation that can be realised through affective relationships that subvert normative sexual conventions.
    • Quotidian Science Fiction: Posthuman Dreams of Emancipation

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester (University of Iowa, 2019-06-13)
      This article argues that Science Fiction is a posthuman art form, whose texts posit a utopian dream which emphasises that the process of becoming posthuman is both incremental, and conditional upon the equitable cultural, social, and environmental evolution of our societies. The genre provides a transient dreamscape for visitation by the (post)human mind, by which the reader gains an expanded perception of not only their own empirical environment, but also of posthuman possibility. This posthuman dream however, is not a simply literalised by SF’s estranging narrative strategy, but rather is located in the intersection between the SF narrative and its generic form. Through the decay of their initially defamiliarizing nova into data which are cognitively explicable by their (post)human audience, SF texts dramatize our species’ continuous journey of becoming posthuman. This fundamentally posthuman model of the SF genre therefore challenges the model of cognitive estrangement proposed by Darko Suvin, and so proposes that SF exerts a pragmatic utopian dream that avoids being deterministic or teleological.
    • Talking Bodies Vol. II

      Hay, Jonathan; Bonsall, Amy; Ashton, Bodie A.; University of Chester; University of Manchester; University of Adelaide
      This volume brings together scholars from across disciplines and continents in order to continue to analyse, query, and deconstruct the complexities of bodily existence in the modern world. Comprising nine essays by leading and emerging scholars, and spanning issues ranging from literature, history, sociology, medicine, law and justice and beyond, Talking Bodies vol. II is a timely and prescient addition to the vital discussion of what bodies are, how we perceive them, and what they mean. As the essays of this volume demonstrate, it is imperative to question numerous established presumptions about both the manner by which our bodies perform their identities, and the processes by which their ownership can be impinged upon.
    • Toys and Radical Politics: The Marxist Import of Toy Story That Time Forgot

      Hay, Jonathan; University of Chester (University of Edinburgh, 2018-06-17)
      Through the analysis of a capitalist text, and by reflecting on the discourse of Marx and Althusser, this paper demonstrates why Marxism remains a potent politics of dissent. It suggests that Marxist philosophies can come to function in an ultimately reparative manner through their promotion of countercultural ideologies.
    • What’s a Little Monotony?

      Hay, Jonathan
      As this article demonstrates, the characteristic focus within Asimov scholarship exclusively upon the technological aspects of his robot stories and novels has meant that the importance of their mundane components have been systematically overlooked. By shifting critical focus to the mundane aspects of these works, it becomes newly apparent that Asimov uses a mundane foundation to problematise humanistic constructs of the human. These mundane components comprise an essential cognitive foundation of known phenomena, via which the comprehension of Asimov’s profoundly novel robots becomes plausible contextually. By readily anticipating and demonstrating the phenomenological impact of the everyday positionality of technology in the contemporary world, Asimov’s robot stories and novels recode the outdated signifier of the ‘human’ in a posthumanistic paradigm.