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As the totalising attempt to imagine a perfectible society that implicitly or explicitly exposes the limits of the empirical present, Utopian fiction probably takes precedence over competing literary forms – fairytales, classical myths, earthly paradises, folk stories about cockaigne, extraordinary voyages, millenarian fantasies, philosophical dialogues, technological blueprints, political manifestoes and satires, in addition to comparatively recent inventions like historical novels and gothic fictions – that helped create the preconditions for the appearance of SF as a singular phenomenon at the end of the nineteenth century. The formal properties gain considerable ideological interest in two ways, however, when approached from materialist non-aesthetic perspectives generated by the demands of the apparatus: Williams, Marxism and Literature, p. This anthology draws on the debates that have taken place within this tradition, provides a critical assessment of current Marxist approaches to the genre, and opens up new perspectives and paths for Marxist SF criticism to explore. He emphasises, for example, that the anamorphic stain on the surface of ‘The Ambassadors’ upsets the spectator’s neutral pose, ‘pinning [the spectator] to the observed object itself: In noir, though, he would be no worse than average, and perhaps even a little better. Maya, Vendana and Athos wander downtown ‘until they passed a large band playing what they called the Sheffield sound.

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In what at first appears to be an unexceptional, even ‘natural’ detail, Shevek remarks that he has ‘discovered, at last, His art’. Work and private life are far more highly integrated, producing pointedly Utopian, non-alienated and collective effects in both individual consciousness and social relations. HarperPrism,p. The luxuriously robed table at the centre of the composition, framed by the casually posed forms of the French ambassadors themselves, is artfully heaped with exquisite objects pertaining to the disciplines of geometry, astronomy, mathematics and music.

I want to explore the operation of the SF anamorph in one final example. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson constitute a raise en abyme of the Utopian text’s own struggle to imagine a world beyond capital.


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At one point a child is maliciously strapped to one of the slow birds, rex consequently disappears when it dematerialises; and it is this child who, on his reappearance, explains that in a parallel universe riven by war ‘the missiles shunt to and fro through time’.

The distinction roughly corresponds to operra difference between SF set excusively or almost exclusively in an ‘unfamiliar’ or irrealist world motf SF set in a ‘familiar’ or realist world that nonetheless contains traces of an ineluctable otherness. Penguin,pp. In the preceding year, new author H. The post-capitalist society on Anarres is represented as dedicated to creating a whole new way of life based on a radical redefinition of ‘common sense’ that maximises mutual aid, human potential and freedom, as opposed to the contrasting Urrasti self-interest, exploitation, commodity exchange and material accumulation.

Rather than being an ‘object’, as Raymond Williams notes, form represents oppera relations between social collective modes and individual projects’. Finish see all Finish. This essay outlines such a theoretical model, offering interpre- tations of Ursula K. SUNY Press,p. Likewise, what one disdains becomes ‘proof of the ‘natural’ difference – and thus inferiority – of the social Other.

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This image, as a component of the composition, can be identified as an anamorph. Thus, the creation of the specifically capitalist mode of production, the growing place of fixed capital, the growth of large firms, increasing centralization of capital, development of new needs and of the world market – all these critical developments emerge as the result of capital’s effort to transcend its barriers, to negate its negation.

Taplinger,pp. The second episode appears as a minor digression in the plot, but is useful for more directly interrogating the novel’s Utopian integrity with respect to the arts. Music on Mars Robinson represents numerous episodes concerning art forms in Blue Mars, including architecture, film, theatre, opera and dance. University of Chicago Press,p. Oxford University Press,p. Hong Kong Movies in San Francisco. Novels and stories such as The Left Hand of Darkness’The New Atlantis’ and Always Coming Home exemplify her commitment to the centrality of the arts to meaningful human identity, both personal and collective.


SF began to receive serious academic attention in the late s.

Marxism, however critically its inheritance is viewed, cannot be overlooked by the increasing numbers who make efforts to provide an analysis and a consequent practice.

Surrealist artists effectively questioned the Cartesian assumption that there can be a ‘proper view-point’, and so emphasised that anamorphosis is only an extreme example of carinx arbitrariness of perspectival rules.

So, in a complicated doubling of anamorphic perspectives, Watson brilliantly exploits the anamorph both as a dystopian figure and a Utopian one.

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xarina Therefore Shevek’s notion that music is ‘his art’ is historically specific in assuming that music even qualifies as ‘art’. A Chinese Ghost Storyone of the most influential HK genre films and a worthy blueprint for the next decade, garbs its beautiful ghostly heroine Siu-sin Joey Wong Jo-yinin trailing white carinz red silk opefa that float seductively around Ning Tsai-shen Leslie Cheung Kwok-wingthe hapless but good-hearted scholar who falls in love and follows her to hell to save her.

The editors would like to thank their contributors and other comrades who have always welcomed, with great generosity, our engagements with both Marxism and SF. Jurgis Baltrusaitis, Anamorphic Art, transl. John Berger, Ways of Seeing London: This leaves a distressingly motf margin for human freedom, as people are repeatedly shown to be driven by lust, greed and other such forces that are difficult to resist even when their dangers are at least partly understood: Leftist theory and criticism were reinvigorated, including ‘a refunctioned critical Marxism, a new wave of Marxist or socialist feminism and gay and lesbian studies, the maturation of critical ecological studies, and expanding anti- non- and post- Western scholarship’.

In this novel, the dystopian future that Wells composes, which is a systematic estrangement of the author’s present, itself constitutes an anamorphosis.