From 9/11 to COVID-19, the twenty-first century looks increasingly dystopian--and so do its television shows. Long-form science fiction narratives take one step further the fears of today: liberal democracy in crisis, growing economic precarity, the threat of terrorism, and omnipresent corporate control. At the same time, many of these shows attempt to visualize alternatives, using dystopian extrapolations to spotlight the possibility of building a better world.Programming the Future examines how recent speculative television takes on the contradictions of the neoliberal order. Sherryl Vint and Jonathan Alexander consider a range of popular SF narratives of the last two decades, including Battlestar Galactica, Watchmen, Colony, The Man in the High Castle, The Expanse, and Mr. Robot. They argue that science fiction television foregrounds governance as part of explaining the novel institutions and norms of its imagined futures. In so doing, SF shows allegorize and critique contemporary social, political, and economic developments, helping audiences resist the naturalization of the status quo. Vint and Alexander also draw on queer theory to explore the representation of family structures and their relationship to larger social structures. Recasting both dystopian and utopian narratives, Programming the Future shows how depictions of alternative-world political struggles speak to urgent real-world issues of identity, belonging, and social and political change.
About the Author
Sherryl Vint is professor of media and cultural studies and of English at the University of California, Riverside. Her books include Science Fiction: A Guide for the Perplexed (2014) and Biopolitical Futures in Twenty-First-Century Speculative Fiction (2021). She is an editor of Science Fiction Studies and the recipient of the Science Fiction Research Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. Jonathan Alexander is Chancellor's Professor of English and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. His many books include Writing Youth: Young Adult Fiction as Literacy Sponsorship (2017) and the Creep Trilogy of critical memoirs, and he is the YA editor for and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Review of Books.