Extrapolation

From Ecological Crisis to Utopian Hope

Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital Trilogy as Realist Critical Dystopia

Extrapolation (1970), 56, (2), 195–214.

Abstract

This essay explores the utopian political possibilities of the ecological disaster novel through a reading of Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital trilogy (2005-2007). Robinson's trilogy offers a crucial intervention into visions of ecological catastrophe by formally negotiating between the conceptual categories of “disaster,” “crisis,” and “event” in a way that leaves liberal reformist solutions untenable while at the same time refusing ahistorical and anti-dialectical fantasies in which disaster becomes the magical solution that will automatically create change. This essay claims that the cultural form it names the “realist critical dystopia” best captures this utopian dynamic.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Badiou, Alain. The Communist Hypothesis.Trans. David Macey and Steve Corcoran. New York: Verso, 2010. Print. The Communist Hypothesis. Google Scholar

Badiou, Alain. The Rebirth of History. Trans. Gregory Elliott. New York: Verso, 2012. Print. The Rebirth of History Google Scholar

Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. Print. Cruel Optimism Google Scholar

Cazdyn, Eric. The Already Dead: The New Time of Politics, Culture, and Illness. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. Print. The Already Dead: The New Time of Politics, Culture, and Illness Google Scholar

Foster, John Bellamy, Brett Clark, and Richard York. The Ecological Rift: Capitalism's War on the Earth. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010. Print. The Ecological Rift: Capitalism's War on the Earth Google Scholar

Hansen, James. Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010. Print. Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity Google Scholar

Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004. Print. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire Google Scholar

Harvey, David. The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print. The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. The Antinomies of Realism. New York: Verso, 2013. Print. The Antinomies of Realism Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. New York: Verso, 2005. Print. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System.Bloomington: Indiana University Press and the British Film Institute, 1992. Print. The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. “The Politics of Utopia.” New Left Review 25 (Jan-Feb 2004): 35–54. Ebscohost. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. New Left Review 35 54 Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One. New York: Verso, 2011. Print. Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. The Seeds of Time. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. Print. The Seeds of Time Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Valences of the Dialectic. New York: Verso, 2010. Print. Valences of the Dialectic Google Scholar

Johns-Putra, Adeline. “Ecocriticism, Genre, and Climate Change: Reading the Utopian Vision of Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital Trilogy.” English Studies 91.7 (November 2010): 744–760. Web. 7 Jun. 2015. Ecocriticism, Genre, and Climate Change: Reading the Utopian Vision of Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital Trilogy. English Studies Google Scholar

Klein, Naomi. “Superstorm Sandy—A People's Shock?” The Nation 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. Superstorm Sandy—A People's Shock? The Nation Google Scholar

Kovel, Joel. The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? New York: Zed Books, 2002. Print. The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? Google Scholar

Levitas, Ruth. Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstruction of Society. New York: Palgrave, 2013. Print. Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstruction of Society Google Scholar

Lilley, Sasha, David McNally, Eddie Yuen and James Davis. Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Catastrophe and Rebirth. Oakland: Spectre, 2012. Print. Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Catastrophe and Rebirth Google Scholar

Luckhurst, Roger. “The Politics of the Network: The Science in the Capital Trilogy.” Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable. Ed. William J. Burling. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. 157–169. Print. The Politics of the Network: The Science in the Capital Trilogy. Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable 157 169 Google Scholar

Medovoi, Leerom. “The Biopolitical Unconscious: Toward an Eco-Marxist Literary Theory.” Literary Materialisms. Eds. Mathias Nilges and Emilio Sauri. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 79–92. Print. The Biopolitical Unconscious: Toward an Eco-Marxist Literary Theory. Literary Materialisms 79 92 Google Scholar

Moylan, Tom. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000. Print. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia Google Scholar

Nilges, Mathias. “Marxism and Form Now.” Mediations 24.2 (Spring 2009): 66–89. Web. 7 Jun. 2015. Marxism and Form Now. Mediations 66 89 Google Scholar

Prettyman, Gib. “Living Thought: Genes, Genres and Utopia in the Science in the Capital Trilogy.” Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable. Ed. William J. Burling. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. 181–203. Print. Living Thought: Genes, Genres and Utopia in the Science in the Capital Trilogy. Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable 181 203 Google Scholar

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Fifty Degrees Below. London: Harper Collins, 2006. Print. Fifty Degrees Below Google Scholar

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Forty Signs of Rain. New York: Bantam, 2005. Print. Forty Signs of Rain Google Scholar

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Sixty Days and Counting. New York: Bantam, 2007. Print. Sixty Days and Counting Google Scholar

Smith, Neil. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008. Print. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space Google Scholar

Wegner, Phillip E. Life Between Two Deaths, 1989–2001: U. S. Culture in the Long Nineties. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. Print. Life Between Two Deaths, 1989–2001: U. S. Culture in the Long Nineties Google Scholar

Wegner, Phillip E. Shockwaves of Possibility: Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia. New York: Peter Lang, 2014. Print. Shockwaves of Possibility: Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia Google Scholar

Williams, Raymond. Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. Print. Marxism and Literature Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. Living in the End Times. New York: Verso, 2010. Print. Living in the End Times Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

King, Derrick