Un-American Dreams: Apocalyptic Sf and Bad Hope in the American Century

Un-American Dreams is a study of US apocalyptic science fiction literature and film during the American Century, 1945-2001. Challenging the contemporary critical platitude that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” I study how sf writers and directors do not imagine apocalypse. George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949), Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney (1965) and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy (1987-1989), and Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996) use the figure of end of the world as a speculative excuse to dream the un-American, to negate the American Century’s claims on historical destiny, and to reinvent a “bad” or damaged utopian hope. The book aspires to revise our understanding of American cultural pessimism and related ideas about the “end of utopia,” contribute to the theoretical toolkits of sf and utopian studies, and provide a historical and dialectical understanding of American apocalyptic mass culture.

Under contract with Liverpool University Press, Science Fiction Texts and Studies series

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