Speculative Modernisms

deadline for submissions: 
September 4, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association

Call for Submissions: 

Speculative Modernisms


Vector invites proposals for articles on speculative modernisms, exploring modernist, experimental, and avant-garde literary and artistic traditions in relation to science fiction, fantasy, and cognate genres and modes.


The inspiration for this topic arises from Nina Allan’s nomination, in Strange Horizons, of Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY as her favourite novel of 2017. As Allan writes, the ‘profound’ and ‘unsettling’ experience of reading Barker’s experimental text is ‘inextricably bound up in the novel’s innovative use of form’. Although the apex of science fiction’s interaction with literary modernism is often identified with Michael Moorcock’s tenureship of New Worlds, we argue that not only is there a more sustained relationship but that modernism was not confined solely to the literary. In its political guises, modernism also imagined new social and technological regimes in ways that complemented, utilised and informed SF’s utopian visions. As Ali Smith has proposed, modernism ‘broke everything up and everything could start all over again. So you could understand both reality and books from a new angle, a renewed angle’. Disruption, novelty, estrangement, defamiliarization - these too are often regarded as characteristics of science fiction. As Virginia Woolf wrote to Olaf Stapledon, on receipt of Star Maker (1937), ‘it seems to me that you are grasping ideas that I have tried to express, much more fumblingly, in fiction.’ Woolf, like Stapledon, was fascinated by discoveries in physics and biology that fundamentally changed our understanding of reality, as well as its artistic representation. From H.G. Wells’s influence on the European avant-garde to contemporary slipstream novels, such as Ned Beauman’s Venomous Lumpsucker (2022), we can see that ongoing interaction. ‘Speculative modernisms’, though, are not confined solely to literature - they can also be found in art, architecture, film, music, design and photography. As the critical focus on postmodernism wanes, we perhaps now have ‘a renewed angle’ on a half-buried history of modernism and SFF. 


We are open to submissions from academics from any discipline and at any career stage, from independent scholars, as well as from SFF writers, fans, and others. We especially welcome voices from marginalized groups. All contributions will automatically be considered for publication in a special issue of Vector (guest-edited by Paul March-Russell) as well as Vector’s digital platform.


Please submit your proposal by 4 September 2023 to vector.submissions@gmail.com, including:

  • a 150-500 word proposal, including estimated length;

  • something about yourself, either a 50-100 word bio or a CV.


Articles should be between 1,000 and 8,000 words. Please let us know your intended word count. We seek articles that are carefully grounded in scholarly research, while also being clear, engaging, and suitable for a broad audience (including non-academics). Articles will be due by 29 January 2024.


Please also feel free to make queries about other formats, e.g. reviews, interviews, curated reading lists, roundtable discussions, unusual / innovative formats. 


Suggested questions / topics


Science fiction and literary experiment

Global modernisms and science fiction

Modernism and techno-culture

Modernist utopias/dystopias

Science fiction and the visual arts

Science fiction and modernist architecture

Science fiction and modernist cinema

Modernism and SF theatre

Scientific influences on modernism and science fiction

Language, modernism and science fiction

Science, modernist poetics and science fiction

Modernism and Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and other regional futurisms

Modernism and Indigenous futurisms

Modernism, science fiction and non-Western knowledges

Modernism, science fiction and sexual expression

SF fanzines, modernism and science communication

Politics, modernism and science fiction

Coteries in modernism and science fiction




Tim Armstrong, Modernism, Technology and the Body: A Cultural Study (CUP, 1998)

Gunter Berghaus, ed. Futurism and the Technological Imagination (Rodopi, 2009)

Matthew Biro, The Dada Cyborg: Visions of the New Human in Weimar Berlin (University of Minnesota Press, 2009)

David Brittain, Eduardo Paolozzi at New Worlds: Science Fiction and Art in the Sixties (Savoy Books, 2013)

Ian Christie, The Last Machine: Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World (BBC Books, 1994)

Seo-Young Chu, Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? A Science-Fictional Theory of Representation (Harvard University Press, 2010)

Sara Danius, The Senses of Modernism: Technology, Perception, and Aesthetics (Cornell University Press, 2002)

James Gifford, A Modernist Fantasy: Modernism, Anarchism, and the Radical Fantastic (ELS Editions, 2018)

Alex Goody, Technology, Literature and Culture (Polity, 2011)

Linda Dalrymple Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (Princeton University Press, 1983)

Holly Henry, Virginia Woolf and the Discourse of Science (CUP, 2003)

Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 (Harvard University Press, 1983)

Roger Luckhurst, ‘Laboratories for Global Space-Time: Science-Fictionality and the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939’, Science Fiction Studies 39.3 (2012)

—-- Science Fiction (Polity, 2005)

Paul March-Russell, Modernism and Science Fiction (Palgrave, 2015)

—-- ‘Science Fiction, Modernism, and the Avant-Garde’, in Gerry Canavan and Eric Carl Link, eds. The Cambridge History of Science Fiction (CUP, 2019)

Sarah J. Monstross, ed. Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas (MIT Press, 2015)

Mark S. Morrisson, Modernism, Science and Technology (Bloomsbury, 2017)

Adam Roberts, The History of Science Fiction (Palgrave, 2006)

Andrew Ross, Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits (Verso, 1991)

Charlotte Sleigh, ‘“Come on you demented modernists, let’s hear from you”: Science Fans as Literary Critics in the 1930s’, in Robert Bud et al, eds. Being Modern: The Cultural Impact of Science in the Early Twentieth Century (UCL Press, 2018)

Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution (OUP, 1989)

Adam Stock and Miranda Iossifidis, eds. ‘Modernism and Science Fiction’, Modernism/Modernity Print + 6.3 (2022), https://modernismmodernity.org/forums/modernism-and-science-fiction

Cecelia Tichi, Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America (University of North Carolina Press, 1987)

Philip E. Wegner, Shockwaves of Possibility: Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia (Peter Lang, 2014)

Michael H. Whitworth, Einstein’s Wake: Relativity, Metaphor, and Modernist Literature (OUP, 2001)