Science Fiction Film & Television

Gendering the Anthropocene

Female astronauts, failed motherhood and the overview effect

Science Fiction Film & Television (2019), 12, (1), 103–125.


In this article I examine films such as The Cloverfield Paradox, One Under the Sun and The Space Between Us, as well as television series such as Extant and The 100, to argue that, in parallel to revisions of masculinist Anthropocene discourse, the increase in female astronauts in contemporary sf has revised the notion of who is capable of political agency and intervention by seeing life on an ecologically troubled Earth from an expansive spatial and temporal perspective. The recent increase of female astronauts on screen, including women of colour, suggests a political reconfiguration of agency in the current geological epoch called the Anthropocene. However, at the same time, contemporary sf film and television is populated by female astronauts who are grieving a lost or dying child, are infertile, or give birth to alien or monstrous children. As I will argue, the failure of procreation is projected onto anxieties about the Earth’s increasing inability to sustain life on Earth. There is, then, a deep ambivalence about the views of the Earth as witnessed by female astronauts - both a progressive political gesture within Anthropocene politics and a perpetuation of the displacement of cultural anxieties onto the female body.

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Author details

Jenner, Joseph