Welcome to the Desert of the Anthropocene: Dystopian Cityscapes in (Post)Apocalyptic Science Fiction

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Abstract

Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007) manifest an environmentalist awareness of the increasingly destructive power of human technologies while challenging the prevalent models we employ to think about the planet as well as its human and non-human inhabitants. Both novels probe what it means to be human in a universe plagued by entropy in the era of the Anthropocene. For the purposes of this essay, I will concentrate particularly on Dick’s and Winterson’s portrayals of the dystopian city as a site of interconnections and transformations against a backdrop of encroaching entropy and impending doom. Drawing on the work of several (critical) posthumanists who are primarily interested in dissolving oppositions such as between nature/culture, biology/technology, I show how the displacement of the centrality of human agency due to the intrusive nature of advanced technology is happening in the broader context of the Anthropocene. I also argue that the dystopian cityscapes envisioned in both novels become places that allow for the possibility of new forms of subjectivity to emerge.

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