Translated from the American by Nicolas Vieillescazes
To an even slightly sensitive mind, the present of human history always appears intolerable; how are we to apprehend it with a naked eye? It is dreaming its secrets and false promises that empowers us to do so. Since a few decades, so-called ‘science-fiction’ literature has been devoted to fulfil this end.
SF is generally conceived as an attempt to imagine unimaginable futures. As Fredric Jameson has proved, it rather addresses present evolutions towards our collective destiny. The numerous authors studied in this collection of articles (among which Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin, Brian Aldiss, Vonda McIntyre, Kim Stanley Robinson or William Gibson) are not only depicting ‘images’ of the future to lull us to sleep or free us from our daily bores – as some literary critics still believe, who persist in not lending any credibility to the effort of anticipation –; science-fiction’s true strength lies in defamiliarizing and restructuring the experience we acquire from the present in a new specific mode, fertile in itself and for thought. With a precise, locally defined method and a great richness of detail, the deep motivation behind futuristic literature and SF as a whole is to provide an understanding of our fundamental incapacity to politically conceive other futures. If we find a seemingly fruitful individual imagination in SF writing, it a contrario unveils mimetic poverty as well as the systemic, cultural and ideological enclosures that hold us captives. This book further explores Jameson’s major social analysis started in Archaeologies Of The Future, Or, The Desire Called Utopia And Other Science Fictions (Max Milo, 2007).
Born in 1934, Fredric Jameson is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University. He has gained international recognition for his studies on postmodernism and the colonisation of the cultural sphere by capitalism.