Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction

Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction


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Science fiction and socialism have always had a close relationship. Many science fiction novelists and filmmakers have used the genre to examine explicit or implicit Marxist concerns. Red Planets is an accessible and lively account, which makes an ideal introduction to anyone interested in the politics of science fiction. The volume covers a rich variety of examples from Weimar cinema to mainstream Hollywood films, and novelists from Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, and Thomas Disch to Ursula K. Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken MacLeod, and Charles Stross. Contributors include Matthew Beaumont, William J. Burling, Carl Freedman, Darren Jorgensen, Rob Latham, Iris Luppa, Andrew Milner, John Rieder, Steven Shaviro, Sherryl Vint, and Phillip Wegner.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780745327303
Publisher: Pluto Press
Publication date: 09/20/2009
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

MARK BOULD teaches film and literature at the University of the West of England. He is the author of Film Noir: From Berlin to Sin City (2005) and The Cinema of John Sayles (2008), and coeditor of The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009). CHINA MIÉVILLE is an independent researcher and novelist. He won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Perdido Street Station (2000) and Iron Council (2004), the British Fantasy Award for The Scar (2002), and the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book for Un Lun Dun (2007).

Table of Contents

Series Preface –; Mike Wayne and Esther Leslie
Introduction: Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet, from Nemo to Neo –; Mark Bould
The Anamorphic Estrangements of Science Fiction –; Matthew Beaumont
Art as 'The Basic Technique of Life': Utopian Art and Art in Utopia in The Dispossessed and Blue Mars –; William J. Burling
Marxism, Cinema and some Dialectics of Science Fiction and Film Noir –; Carl Freedman
Spectacle, Technology and Colonialism in SF Cinema: the Case of Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World' –; John Rieder
The Singularity is Here –; Steven Shaviro
Species and Species Being: Alienated Subjectivity and the Commodification of Animals –; Sherryl Vint
Ken MacLeod's Permanent Revolution: Utopian Possible Worlds, History, and the Augenblick in the Fall Revolution Quartet –; Phillip Wegner
'Madonna in moon rocket with breeches': Weimar SF Film Criticism during the Stabilisation Period –; Iris Luppa
The Urban Question in New Wave SF –; Rob Latham
Toward a Revolutionary Science Fiction: Althusser's Critique of Historicity –; Darren Jorgensen
Utopia and Science Fiction Revisited –; Andrew Milner
Afterword: Cognition as Ideology: A Dialectic of SF Theory –; China Miéville
About the Contributors

What People are Saying About This

Neil Easterbrook

"Red Planets is a highly readable and interesting collection of essays. Many of the pieces have completely new things to tell us, and will be of interest even to those who are antagonistic toward politically inspired criticism."
Neil Easterbrook, associate professor of critical theory, TCU

From the Publisher

"Red Planets is a highly readable and interesting collection of essays. Many of the pieces have completely new things to tell us, and will be of interest even to those who are antagonistic toward politically inspired criticism."—Neil Easterbrook, associate professor of critical theory, TCU

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Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
raygarraty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this book with the intriguing subtitle "Marxism and Science Fiction" equal proportions between the constituent parts of it still are not observed. And whether it is good - for the book and the reader - can not be answered unequivocally.Eleven articles plus, the musical language speaking of, the intro and outro from the editors of the book explore the theme of relationship between Marx's theory and the actually science fiction with varying success. If Marx's works appeared in the middle of the XIX century, the critical thinking of science fiction through Marxism got its start a century later, in the 60's of last century. The founder of leftist approach became the most influential SF critic Darko Suvin, which, in general, is mentioned in every article of the book under review.The theme "Marxism and science fiction" is treated by each of the authors in his own way, so one way or another both subthemes of the book varied. Thus, science fiction in the book is an example of not only the classics, but also more modern authors of SF, with examples from film and even painting. This, of course, is the step towards the reader: one who knows little of the cinema will grasp the meaning of articles which subject is literature, the one who knows little in the science fiction books, may be happy to read articles about the movies.Another fact that causes a double sense is that critics, scholars, academics, presented in the book, for his articles selected examples known to everybody. If this is cinema, that is Lang, Kubrick, Wilder, Wenders. If this is literature, that is Disch, Stross, Le Guin, Stanley Robinson, Verne. On the one hand, it helps better understanding of articles: it is always easier to understand that once looked read himself, not relying only on the retelling of critic. On the other, it seems to say about the narrowness of the range considered works by critics, about their non-wide reading non-wide watching.The article¿s authors, despite the Marxist approach, seem to feel that reliance on only left-wing critics is not enough, so almost every article calls for help Zizek, Lyotard, Badiou, Adorno, Althusser, Lacan and others.Among the number of articles of the book suddenly greatest interest is provoked by those that focus on the relation of Marxism and film, not literature. Thus, Carl Freedman in his article compares the film noir with the SF films from the viewpoint of Marxism, and names an exemplary film showing a perfect blend of noir and science fiction not Blade Runner nor Alphaville, but Dark City by Alex Proyas. A detailed analysis of criticism in the Weimar Republic is presented by Iris Luppa in «"Madonna in Moon Rocket with Breeches": Weimar SF Film Criticism during the Stabilisation Period». She discusses the attitude of German critics of the early films by Fritz Lang and shows that politicized film criticism of those period still did not know what to demand from cinema, looking to the future, hence not a warm reception of Lang`s films. John Rieder found the Marxist roots of Wim Wenders in his "Until the End of the World", noting pronounced themes of colonialism and technology in this film.The book, of course, for its better understanding demands from the reader acquaintance with the works of many philosophers, not necessarily left-wing. Without that not a simple language of book¿s articles can become an insurmountable obstacle to make the book read on. The book was published by university press, so this should be expected.Once again returning to the cover of the book and its subtitle, it has to be admitted that Marxism in the book was still more than science fiction.