In Shakespeare and Science Fiction Sarah Annes Brown investigates why so many science fiction writers have turned to Shakespeare when imagining humanity’s future. He and his works become a kind of touchstone for the species in much science fiction, both transcending and exemplifying what it means to be human. Writers have used Shakespeare in a range of often contradictory ways. He is associated with freedom and with tyranny, with optimistic visions of space exploration and with the complete destruction of the human race. His works have been invoked to justify the existence of humanity, but have also frequently been coopted for their own purposes by alien life forms or artificial intelligences.
Shakespeare and Science Fiction is the first extended study of Shakespeare’s influence on the genre. It engages with over a hundred works across different science fiction media, identifying recurring patterns – and telling contradictions – in the way the genre engages both with the historical Shakespeare and with his plays. It includes discussions of time travel, alternate history, dystopias, space opera, posthuman identity and post-apocalyptic fiction.