Outdated Futures

Saronik talks with Manish Melwani about outdated visions of the future and stale science fiction ideas that just won’t die.

Manish is a Singaporean writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. He attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop in 2014, and then completed a master’s thesis at NYU entitled Starports, Portals and Port Cities: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Empire’s Wake. (That’s where he met Saronik.) Manish has published several short stories, with several more—and a novel—on the way.

They talk about science fiction’s imperialist heritage and how going to Mars is just a distraction from the imaginative (and literal) dead end our civilization faces. They also throw shade on Cecil Rhodes and certain tech moguls who have completely missed the point of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels.

Manish’s perspective has been shaped by many other writers and theorists including: John Rieder’s work on Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction, Samuel R. Delany’s seminal essays, Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding, a group biography of John W. Campbell and other figures from the Golden Age of science fiction, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent climate sci-fi oeuvre.

Further reading includes Joanna Russ’s We Who Are About To, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, Chen Qiufan’s The Waste Tide, Malka Older’s Centenal CycleGlass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers edited by Sarena Ulibarri, and Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland.

Image created by Saronik Bosu using open source vectors.

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John Linstrom talks about the ecosphere, a way of understanding the world deriving principally from the work of ecologist and philosopher Stan Rowe. We also refer briefly to James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, crown shyness in trees, Aldo Leopold’s idea of a ‘land community’, Wendell Berry’s The Way of Ignorance and knowledge humility.

John Linstrom is a 7th year Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of English, New York University., and series editor of The Liberty Hyde Bailey Library for the Comstock Publishing Associates imprint of Cornell University Press.

The image for this episode is that of red-blue-and-green sea anemones.

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In this episode Kim and Saronik discuss Bruno Latour’s essay, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004): 225-248.

Image source:
M. Platen, The New Curative Treatment of Disease: Handbook of Hygienic Rules of Life, Health Culture, and the Cure of Ailments Without the Aid of Drugs… London : Bong & Co., 1893, p. 668

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