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Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions

The relationship between utopia and science fiction, in the age of globalization.
In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World, and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogates the functions of utopian thinking in a post-Communist age. The relationship between utopia and science fiction is explored through the representations of otherness … alien life and alien worlds … and a study of the works of Philip K. Dick, Ursula LeGuin, William Gibson, Brian Aldiss, Kim Stanley Robinson and more. Jameson’s essential essays, including “The Desire Called Utopia,” conclude with an examination of the opposing positions on utopia and an assessment of its political value today.

Reviews

  • Archaeologies of the Future is certainly among the most stunning studies of science fiction ever produced... a vast treasure trove of a book, crammed with brilliant apercus... Jameson is one of the world's most eminent cultural theorists, but he is also a peerless literary critic in the classical sense of the term.”
  • “Jameson's skill in connecting diverse materials and theories, the suggestiveness of many of his insights and his passionate conviction make this an exciting book.”

Blog

  • What can Star Wars and Star Trek really tell us about the future?

    In an excerpt from his new book Four Futures: Life After Capitalism, Peter Frase discusses how science fiction can help us understand the future.

    One way of differentiating social science from science fiction is that the first is about describing the world that is, while the second speculates about a world that might be. But really, both are a mixture of imagination and empirical investigation, put together in different ways. Both attempt to understand empirical facts and lived experience as something that is shaped by abstract—and not directly perceptible—structural forces.



    Certain types of speculative fiction are more attuned than others to the particularities of social structure and political economy. In Star Wars, you don’t really care about the details of the galactic political economy. And when the author tries to flesh them out, as George Lucas did in his widely derided Star Wars prequel movies, it only gums up the story. In a world like Star Trek, on the other hand, these details actually matter. Even though Star Wars and Star Trek might superficially look like similar tales of space travel and swashbuckling, they are fundamentally different types of fiction. The former exists only for its characters and its mythic narrative, while the latter wants to root its characters in a richly and logically structured social world.

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  • Emerging Futures: A Bookshelf



    In this moment of wide-scale rejection of establishment politics and the global rise of a right wing populist movement, we need utopian and radical visions of society more than ever.

    This is not escapist wishful thinking but a reimagining of society as one that values people over profits, that rules democratically and collectively, that provides for the needs of all citizens. In this calamitous time, utopian thinking can inform our social movements and our strategies for building a better future.

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  • Fredric Jameson: Universal Conscription and the Citizens' Army

    Fredric Jameson’s pathbreaking essay An American Utopia radically questions standard leftist notions of what constitutes an emancipated society. "If," Jameson asks, "business, the professions, religion, even the labor unions (let alone the post office or the Mafia) are inadequate vehicles for dual power, what can then be left in late capitalism as an already organized institution capable of assuming the parallel and ultimately revolutionary role on which alone radical social change depends?" 



    All books on our Emerging Futures Reading List, including 
    An American Utopia, are 40% off until Sunday, November 20th at midnight UTC. Includes free worldwide shipping and bundled ebooks where available.

    Click here to activate the discount.


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