Ecofeminist Science Fiction
International Perspectives on Gender, Ecology, and Literature
Ecofeminist Science Fiction: International Perspectives on Gender, Ecology, and Literature provides guidance in navigating some of the most pressing dangers we face today. Science fiction helps us face problems that threaten the very existence of humankind by giving us the emotional distance to see our current situation from afar, separated in our imaginations through time, space, or circumstance. Extrapolating from contemporary science, science fiction allows a critique of modern society, imagining more life-affirming alternatives.
In this collection, ecocritics from five continents scrutinize science fiction for insights into the fundamental changes we need to make to survive and thrive as a species. Contributors examine ecofeminist themes in films, such as Avatar, Star Wars, and The Stepford Wives, as well as television series including Doctor Who and Westworld. Other scholars explore an internationally diverse group of both canonical and lesser-known science fiction writers including Oreet Ashery, Iraj Fazel Bakhsheshi, Liu Cixin, Louise Erdrich, Hanns Heinz Ewers, Larissa Lai, Ursula K. Le Guin, Chen Qiufan, Mary Doria Russell, Larissa Sansour, Karen Traviss, and Jeanette Winterson.
Ecofeminist Science Fiction explores the origins of human-caused environmental change in the twin oppressions of women and of nature, driven by patriarchal power and ideologies. Female embodiment is examined through diverse natural and artificial forms, and queer ecologies challenge heteronormativity. The links between war and environmental destruction are analyzed, and the capitalist motivations and means for exploiting nature are critiqued through postcolonial perspectives.
Table of Contents
Preface Douglas A. Vakoch
Introduction Patrick D. Murphy
I. Female Bodies: Plants and Animals, Cyborgs and Robots
1. "Mothered by the Arid Sand": Hanns Heinz Ewers’ Alraune with an Ecofeminist Twist Melissa Etzler
2. The Runa and Female Otherness in Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow Lesley Kordecki
3. Reproduction, Utilitarianism, and Speciesism in Sleep Dealer and Westworld Imelda Martín Junquera
4. The Living Spaces of Robots: An Ecofeminist Reading of The Stepford Wives Katja Plemenitaš
II. Queer Ecologies
5. An Ecofeminist Reading of Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods Aslı Değirmenci Altın
6. Speculative Sex: Queering Aqueous Natures and Biotechnological Futures in Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl Sarah Bezan
7. Queering Doctor Who and Supernatural: An Ecofeminist Response to Bill Potts and Charlie Bradbury Meghna Mudaliar
III. War and Ecoterrorism
8. No Easy Answers: Karen Traviss’s The Wess’har Wars Series Patrick D. Murphy
9. "The Force Is Strong with This One": A Material Feminist Approach to Star Wars Başak Ağın
10. Chinese Science Fiction and Representations of Ecofeminists: Mad women or Women Warriors Peter I-min Huang
IV. Capitalism and Colonization
11. Hegemonic Masculinity and Tropes of Domination: An Ecofeminist Analysis of James Cameron’s 2009 Film Avatar Lydia Rose and Teresa M. Bartoli
12. Eco-Heroines and Saviors in Iraj Fazel Bakhsheshi’s Men and Supertowers and The Sun’s Sons Zahra Jannessari Ladani
13. Rethinking Resistance: An Ecofeminist Approach to Anti-Colonialism in Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God and Oreet Ashery and Larissa Sansour’s The Novel of Nonel and Vovel Benay Blend
14. The Road to Sinshan: Ecophilia in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Early Hainish Novels Deirdre Byrne
Douglas A. Vakoch is President of METI, dedicated to Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence and sustaining civilization on multigenerational timescales. As Director of Green Psychotherapy, PC, he helps alleviate environmental distress through ecotherapy. Dr. Vakoch is editor-in-chief of the book series Space and Society (Springer), as well as general editor of Ecocritical Theory and Practice (Lexington Books). He has explored ecofeminism in six of his other books, including Dystopias and Utopias on Earth and Beyond: Feminist Ecocriticism of Science Fiction.
"Unexpected kinships, cautionary tales, problematic intimacies, and visions of futures embedded in our present: for more than a century, speculative fiction has spoken the language of our ecological imagination. Enriched by political engagement and theoretical rigor, this is the same language that ecofeminism has been speaking since its inception. With an impressive ensemble of voices, perspectives, and experiences, Ecofeminist Science Fiction finally bridges in a systematic way sci-fi and ecological feminism, masterfully expanding the canon of environmental literary studies." --Serenella Iovino, Professor of Italian Studies and Environmental Humanities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and author of Ecocriticism and Italy as well as co-editor of Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene
"Writing into the lacuna where the intriguing cultural worlds of ecofeminism and science fiction meet, the international voices collected here delight and instruct as they grapple provocatively with intellectual challenges of our time, including female space and embodiment, queer ecology, ecoterrorism, and capitalism and colonization. This fine collection of ground-breaking essays convincingly depicts the continued need to engage the twin problem of violence to women and damaging the earth, while taking that engagement to new intellectual heights by reading the moving mirror of science fiction as a comment on our world." --Etienne Terblanche, Extraordinary Professor of Literature, North-West University, South Africa and author of T.S. Eliot, Poetry, and Earth as well as E. E. Cummings: Poetry and Ecology
"This is a wonderful book for all those interested in innovative ecocritical and ecofeminist analyses of science fiction, and indeed popular culture. The volume is impressive in its extensive international sweep, as well as employing multiple ecofeminist critical theories, including queer, animal studies, indigenous, material feminism, and anti-colonial emphases. Fresh and engaging, the authors examine a number of often-overlooked texts as well as those better known, including literature, films, TV shows, and a graphic novel. The historical range is astonishing, reaching back to sf precursors in the 19th century and stretching to contemporary works. The authors of the separate essays are in clear dialogue with one another, making this volume a great teaching tool." --Noël Sturgeon, Professor Emerita of Environmental Studies, York University, Canada and author of Ecofeminist Natures as well as Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality and the Politics of the Natural
"As the first book-length work to explore the topic, the volume’s critical intervention in establishing a genealogy of ecofeminist sf is just as timely as it is overdue. As Douglas Vakoch proposes in his foreword, sf ‘helps us face problems that threaten the very existence of humankind by giving us the emotional distance to see our current situation from afar’." --Foundation 139, 50.2 (summer 2021) Jonathan Hay, University of Chester