Science Fiction & “Capitalist Realism”

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, a great review of a new special issue of the journal Paradoxa about the state of science fiction. The review starts by name-dropping “cli-fi” and the writing of Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood before moving into its description of the collection:

The more sophisticated offerings among these postapocalyptic fictions often highlight how end-of-the-world fantasies can often perpetuate triumphalist narratives of global capitalism, and this is one of the key launching points for Mark Bould and Rhys Williams’s recent special issue of the scholarly journal Paradoxa. This special issue — called Sf Now — examines cutting-edge trends in science fiction literature and theory, and it offers several articles that expand on Mark Fisher’s notion of “capitalist realism,” or the idea that challenges to capitalist norms are often preemptively rejected as fruitless and unrealistic.

sf-now-243x366If you ask me, the possibilities and power of “cli-fi” should be evaluated by how well it provides alternatives to this line of thinking — “capitalist realism” — and directly challenges its limitations. As we discussed in class, I think Kingsolver is actually doing this rather well in Flight Behavior if we account for her audience, mainly in the two scenes where Dellarobia goes shopping (first in the dollar store, later in the thrift store) — so it doesn’t always have to come in the form of science fiction.

You can read the Introduction to the special issue online.

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