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Dystopian narrative is a product of the social ferment of the twentieth century. A hundred years of war, famine, disease, state terror, genocide, ecocide, and the depletion of humanity through the buying and selling of everyday life provided fertile ground for this fictive underside of the utopian imagination. From the classical works by E. M. Forster, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Al Dystopian narrative is a product of the social ferment of the twentieth century. A hundred years of war, famine, disease, state terror, genocide, ecocide, and the depletion of humanity through the buying and selling of everyday life provided fertile ground for this fictive underside of the utopian imagination. From the classical works by E. M. Forster, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Margaret Atwood, through the new maps of hell in postwar science fiction, and most recently in the dystopian turn of the 1980s and 1990s, this narrative machine has produced challenging cognitive maps of the given historical situation by way of imaginary societies which are even worse than those that lie outside their authors' and readers' doors.In Scraps of the Untainted Sky , Tom Moylan offers a thorough investigation of the history and aesthetics of dystopia. To situate his study, Moylan sets out the methodological paradigm that developed within the interdisciplinary fields of science fiction studies and utopian studies as they grow out of the oppositional political culture of the 1960 and 1970s (the context that produced the project of cultural studies itself). He then presents a thorough account of the textual structure and formal operations of the dystopian text. From there, he focuses on the new science-fictional dystopias that emerged in the context of the economic, political, and cultural convulsions of the 1980s and 1990s, and he examines in detail three of these new "critical dystopias:" Kim Stanley Robinson's The Gold Coast, Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower , and Marge Piercy's He, She, and It .With its detailed, documented, and yet accessible presentation, Scraps of the Untainted Sky will be of interest to established scholars as well as students and general readers who are seeking an in-depth introduction to this important area of cultural production.


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Dystopian narrative is a product of the social ferment of the twentieth century. A hundred years of war, famine, disease, state terror, genocide, ecocide, and the depletion of humanity through the buying and selling of everyday life provided fertile ground for this fictive underside of the utopian imagination. From the classical works by E. M. Forster, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Al Dystopian narrative is a product of the social ferment of the twentieth century. A hundred years of war, famine, disease, state terror, genocide, ecocide, and the depletion of humanity through the buying and selling of everyday life provided fertile ground for this fictive underside of the utopian imagination. From the classical works by E. M. Forster, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Margaret Atwood, through the new maps of hell in postwar science fiction, and most recently in the dystopian turn of the 1980s and 1990s, this narrative machine has produced challenging cognitive maps of the given historical situation by way of imaginary societies which are even worse than those that lie outside their authors' and readers' doors.In Scraps of the Untainted Sky , Tom Moylan offers a thorough investigation of the history and aesthetics of dystopia. To situate his study, Moylan sets out the methodological paradigm that developed within the interdisciplinary fields of science fiction studies and utopian studies as they grow out of the oppositional political culture of the 1960 and 1970s (the context that produced the project of cultural studies itself). He then presents a thorough account of the textual structure and formal operations of the dystopian text. From there, he focuses on the new science-fictional dystopias that emerged in the context of the economic, political, and cultural convulsions of the 1980s and 1990s, and he examines in detail three of these new "critical dystopias:" Kim Stanley Robinson's The Gold Coast, Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower , and Marge Piercy's He, She, and It .With its detailed, documented, and yet accessible presentation, Scraps of the Untainted Sky will be of interest to established scholars as well as students and general readers who are seeking an in-depth introduction to this important area of cultural production.

30 review for Scraps Of The Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbora

    This critical study was of a major help to me during my own research in the field of science fiction, utopia, and dystopia. Thomas Moylan is without doubt one of the most influential authors and critics of science fiction.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steen Ledet

    An astonishing breadth of knowledge is displayed but not too many new insights. Will probably work great as a textbook.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bayford

    Masterful. Exemplary in its field.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adam Herron

    For my Film Studies course last year, we chose specific areas to investigate. My project was based around dystopian futures (eg. 1984, V For Vendetta, Blade Runner), so when finding reading material, this book seemed the best choice from Amazon's fairly limited selection (though the subject area is specialised). As stated in another review, it is organised into three sections - 'Science Fiction and Utopia', 'Dystopia' and 'Dystopian Manoeuvres'. It tracks each genre's development, alongside cult For my Film Studies course last year, we chose specific areas to investigate. My project was based around dystopian futures (eg. 1984, V For Vendetta, Blade Runner), so when finding reading material, this book seemed the best choice from Amazon's fairly limited selection (though the subject area is specialised). As stated in another review, it is organised into three sections - 'Science Fiction and Utopia', 'Dystopia' and 'Dystopian Manoeuvres'. It tracks each genre's development, alongside cultural zeitgeists of the period and notable works from the genres. This book's strength lies in its exploration of theory. Several helpful areas included Darko Suvin's novum (the scientifically plausible innovations used in science-fiction narratives), the didactic vs dialectic debate, and the importance of the conventions of the imagined universe. Moylan takes great care to sufficiently educate the reader on each theory, so even new readers may access deeper understanding. The writer's use of advanced vocabulary evidences a thorough examination of the subject, with specialist terms regularly used. Contrary to proving obnoxious, I found this writing style was needed to match the complex content. Although one or two words could have benefitted from being simplified, I enjoyed expanding my own vocabulary whilst reading. I would recommend this book to anyone studying, or interested in, the three subject areas. It is definitely the opposite of a light read, at 408 pages small font (although this includes a large range of sources, and some suggested material). But for those who seek an academic understanding, 'Scraps' would be a good source.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Here's a great introduction to contemporary utopian and dystopian fiction. The book is split into three sections: "Science Fiction and Utopia," "Dystopia," and "Dystopian Maneuvers." In the first two sections, Moylan gives the critical and historical context for these books, and in the third, short chapters on Kim Stanley Robinson, Octavia Butler, and Marge Piercy. This book is helping me clarify my thinking about what fictional utopian and dystopian texts do in the world. This is an unabashedly Here's a great introduction to contemporary utopian and dystopian fiction. The book is split into three sections: "Science Fiction and Utopia," "Dystopia," and "Dystopian Maneuvers." In the first two sections, Moylan gives the critical and historical context for these books, and in the third, short chapters on Kim Stanley Robinson, Octavia Butler, and Marge Piercy. This book is helping me clarify my thinking about what fictional utopian and dystopian texts do in the world. This is an unabashedly academic book, but if you've read a fair amount of the utopian/dystopian canon, Moylan's arguments will make sense.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Read as part of my degree, when you never have a chance to enjoy your reading. I'd like to revisit this book one day when I am not thinking in a single direction for my dissertation and thus have scope to enjoy it's theories for what they are. Read as part of my degree, when you never have a chance to enjoy your reading. I'd like to revisit this book one day when I am not thinking in a single direction for my dissertation and thus have scope to enjoy it's theories for what they are.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Blaine Corbin

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kimon Mrkts

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oroacdc Yea Ju

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison Graves

  12. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shane Perry

  14. 4 out of 5

    Horváth Evelyn

  15. 4 out of 5

    Demian

  16. 4 out of 5

    Simsian

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  18. 4 out of 5

    Enya

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert Wood

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donnal

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stef

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marge

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve Sanderson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eva Petrová

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karl Bunker

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cátia

  29. 4 out of 5

    Irmak

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert Graves

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