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Gothic Science Fiction and China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Forthcoming
Publication date2018
Host publicationThe Gothic Reader
EditorsSimon Bacon
PublisherPeter Lang (Oxford)
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Gothic science fiction is a blending of two genres that are themselves always already hybrid and plastic. This chapter briefly reviews how the emerging discourses of Romantic science were inflected with profoundly dark and fantastical tropes, and how these entanglements have taken diverse forms since. It reviews longstanding debates around whether science fiction and the fantastic are mutually exclusive, and argues for the value of blurring these critical boundaries, drawing on the work of Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., Gary Wolfe, John Clute and others. In their grotesquerie, hybridity, and representations of suffering, many blendings of Gothic and science fiction demonstrate an abiding concern with the vulnerable human form within profoundly exploitative milieux. Since 1980 these kinds of texts have tended to explore ‘anxieties and taboo pleasures’ emerging from ‘the rise of global capitalism, and national identity in a post-imperial world; the profusion of technology; the sanctity of body boundaries and the place of the human subject within the grip of the abstractions of law; and the threat of apocalypse’ (Wasson and Alder 2011: 8). I illustrate some of the directions that might be taken in response to some of these preoccupations by discussing China Miéville’s novel Perdido Street Station (2000). Texts which merge science fiction, Gothic and horror continue to offer evocative representations of emotional darkness, strange affect, and a sense of broken, hybrid, and discontinuous being. In the process, such texts can offer rich material for rendering - and challenging – a tortured present and feared futures.