SF and Societal Vulnerability: Fragility, Collapse, and Transformation
COVID showed us what we already knew, how fragile global capitalist societies are and how unresilient they become when the structures get shocked. Some of those structures deserve to be destroyed (authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, colonialism, labor exploitation, e.g.); others need to be shored up or replaced with even better institutions and practices (healthcare, the planetary ecosystem, wealth equity, social justice, e.g.). When these fragile structures fail, their failures disproportionately affect those least able to bear the harm. And, around the world, the harmful effects of exploitative structures are repeatedly discriminatorily directed.
The mass media, as well as scholars and activists from varied disciplines and fields, are already critiquing the “post-COVID” “return to normal” for its failure to emerge from the early years of the pandemic into a world that deliberately and substantially functions differently and better. The future in which we live is going to be made from the present. In all its forms, Speculative fiction has long imagined–more and less plausibly–where we go from here. It isn’t the only literature that does so (so-called realist fiction may focus more on the “here,” but it’s also interested in what’s next). How does fiction depict and engage with societal fragility/lack of resiliency? How does literature imagine alternative, adaptable, and more durable social formations and institutions?
We seek literary critical engagements with alternatives and responses to authortarian/nationalistic/miliaristic political structures arising during the Anthropocene as well as speculative alternatives to the necessary social institutions that are more just, effective, and sustainible. COVID reminds us of what has always been true: our social structures are imperfect; literature, throughout history, has been imagining alternatives. Our hope is to assemble a collection of demonstrations and interventions that explicitly engage readers in calls to action.
Possible topics could include but are not limited to:
Ecopunk and solar punk
Posthumanism (and all the other prefixes)
Race and ethnic studies
Please send abstracts of up to 500 words in length, along with a brief bio of up to 200 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com no later than September 15, 2022, with full chapters to be submitted by March 15, 2023. Queries always welcome.