The Economic Sublime

10th May 2018

G04, 43 Gordon Square

As part of the Bloomsbury Lecture Series, we are glad to present Dr Chris Pak's lecture: "The Economic Sublime!": Utopia and Dystopia in Three Contemporary Science Fiction Novels.

Contemporary science fiction novels engaging with utopia and dystopia focus their narratives on the social implications of economic and political choices made in response to, or in spite of, knowledge of the Anthropocene. Paolo Bacigalupi's The Water Knife (2015), Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140 (2017) and Cory Doctorow's Walkaway (2017) in particular use utopian structures and themes to portray and critique the economic, social and political trajectories implied by trends seen today. This talk asks how utopia and dystopia are configured in these three works of contemporary science fiction: whether they function as a form of critique, as a warning, or as experimental space for reflection on alternatives to contemporary socio-economic arrangements.

Dr Chris Pak is the author of Terraforming: Ecopolitical Transformations and Environmentalism in Science Fiction, published by Liverpool University Press in 2016. He edited the Science Fiction Research Association's SFRA Review from 2014–2018 and is the current sub-editor of the Medical Humanities blog.

Dr Pak's previous appointments include the Leverhulme-funded corpus linguistic project ‘“People,” “Products,” “Pests” and “Pets”: The Discursive Representation of Animals’ at Lancaster University from 2013–2016, and the Volkswagen Foundation-funded digital humanities project ‘Modelling Between Digital and Humanities: Thinking in Practice’ at King’s Digital Lab from 2017–2018.


Image by dnlspnk, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence.

Author: CCL

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