Anti-Anti-Abundance

The age of ecological limits does not necessitate obedience to limits. It is also an invitation to take a utopian leap beyond the world.

In Defense of Science Fiction

Literary critics can only develop more or less persuasive instruction manuals that recommend to reading communities why certain texts should be read together as a genre, how they should be read, and why it matters.

The “Balloonhead” in the Early SF Pulps

A curious figure appears again and again in the pages of the early SF pulp magazines: a man with a gigantic head and a small, withered body. He is the man of the far future, the apotheosis of technological and mental evolution. His body has atrophied due to lack of use, for machinery has made muscular…

J.A. Mitchell’s The Last American

In this fictional future history, written by John Ames Mitchell, the co-founder of Life magazine, the Persian prince and admiral Khan-Li records his astonishing journey through the ruins of “Nhu-Yok,” the famed city of the extinct “Mehrikan” people. Khan-Li and his crew enter an “ancient street, the pavements covered with weeds, grass and flowers, all…

Urban Apocalypse in Film

One of the greatest oddities in the cultural history of American cities is the frequency—and relish—with which they have been cinematically destroyed. To be sure, while no sane person truly wants cities to be wiped out, American (and global) audiences are nonetheless exhilarated by their cinematic destruction.  A small sample of these visions of earthquakes, floods, monsters, aliens, nuclear wars, tornadoes, and tsunamis will play silently throughout my talk. I hope it will illustrate some of my claims and give you a sense of the sheer spectacle, relentlessness, and terrible fun of the city’s end in cinema. How can we…