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Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction (Marxism and Culture) [Paperback]

Mark Bould , China Miéville
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 July 2009 Marxism and Culture
Science fiction and socialism have always had a close relationship. Many sf novelists and filmmakers are leftists. Others examine explicit or implicit Marxist concerns.

As a genre, sf is ideally suited to critiquing the present through its explorations of the social and political possibilities of the future. This is the first collection to combine analyses of sf literature and films within a broader overview of Marxist theorisations of and critical perspectives on the genre.

This is an accessible and lively introduction for anyone studying the politics of sf, covering a rich variety of examples from Weimar cinema to mainstream Hollywood films, and novelists from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken MacLeod and Charles Stross.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (20 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745327303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745327303
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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This collection shows what science fiction criticism can do when Marxist critical practice is joined by science studies and the rest of theory. The results are tremendously exciting and powerful, explaining not just a genre but our world, from the financial crash of 2008 to the utopian impulses that remain always in us. (Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy)

This collection marks a red shift in thinking about the history, form, and impact of science fiction literature and film. In robust dialectical manoeuvres, the essays, by a dynamic mix of scholars, simultaneously revive, critique, and transform the vibrant tradition of Marxist sf criticism. The book is a timely, readable, and incisive intervention in contemporary cultural critique. (Tom Moylan is Glucksman Professor of Contemporary Writing in English and Director of the Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies at the University of Limerick.)

Red Planets is a highly readable and interesting collection of essays. Many of the pieces have completely new things to tell us, and will be of interest even to those who are antagonistic toward politically inspired criticism. (Neil Easterbrook, Associate Professor of Critical Theory, Texas Christian University)

About the Author

Mark Bould is Reader in Film and Literature at the University of the West of England, co-editor of Science Fiction Film and Television and an advisory editor for Extrapolation, Historical Materialism, Paradoxa and Science Fiction Studies. His books include Film Noir: From Berlin to Sin City (2005), The Cinema of John Sayles (2009) and he is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009).

China Miéville is an independent researcher and an award-winning novelist. He is a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism. Miéville's novel Perdido Street Station won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very strong set of analyses 20 April 2011
By M J
This is the first review I've ever written for Amazon. Ordinarily I don't, but I disagreed so strongly with the existing review - and there was no other review to act as a counterpoint - that I have decided to write this one.

Firstly, this collection is not perfect. A few of the articles focus unduly on relatively brief and barely-noticed happenings in the history of science fiction which (this SF student believes) didn't have significant long-term effect, while the parallel apparently drawn between the work of Verne and the Wachowski Brothers is a somewhat challenging one to convince with (amongst others). With that said, the majority of the articles are insightful, interesting and continue to contribute to a growing body of work around an oft-ignored genre.

Nevertheless, the previous review and its associated defending comments rather miss the point. The core of the review is criticising an *academic* book for containing academic terminology. Nobody (I would hope) would criticise a romantic film for containing a kiss, a historical novel for failing to include the internet or a sculpture for having the audacity to appear off canvas. In the same way, criticising a collection of sophisticated literary study for being exactly that seems a little unusual, to say the least. Such books have nothing to do with being "cleverer than the masses"; they are to do with academia. Just because something involves a high level of linguistic and conceptual complexity does not automatically relegate it to the realm of "posturing".

This social science PhD student agrees that there is undoubtedly a fine line between meaningless jargon and worthwhile scrutiny.
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14 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Red Planets: Don't Waste Your Time or Money 10 Oct 2010
This book was a massive disappointment. I was hoping to read a series of articles that would make interesting comments on specific science fiction works from the point of view of contemporary politics and economics. I was encouraged by the name of China Mieville on the cover because his fiction is great. Instead I got monotonous academic posturing of the most nauseating kind. It was one of those exercises where everyone has to use long convoluted sentences with as many pseudo-scientific technical expressions as possible and constant references to other writers (who you have never heard of). It is tedious trying to unravel what each writer is trying to say (and all about them posing for their friends who inhabit the same little club). Here is an example from the Introduction where the writer is discussing The Matrix trilogy (not that it matters what he is discussing): "In the context of the communicational concept of gobalisation,which tends to see intra-, inter-, cross- and trans-cultural contacts as a progressive proliferation, producing 'an immense global urban intercultural festival without centre', many have argued for the trilogy's multiculturalism - in its conceptualisation, production, casting, audio-visual field and global success." The first article is entitled 'The Anamorphic Estrangements of Science Fiction' (what?). I regret to report that China Mieville's little contribution was as bad as the rest.

A good writer can write about complex matters in a clear and accessible way. George Orwell insisted that this is essential for a worthwhile essay (oh no!I've started name dropping now). It is particularly bizarre that this little club of Marxist writers are so committed to this kind of exclusive high brow language when they are supposed to be about solidarity with the masses. There should be some sort of warning about this book being totally unsuitable for anyone who is not part of this narrow academic elite. I still love your work China but really!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most creative edited volume on the subject. 21 Dec 2012
By Kevin M. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
I love science fiction, and I'm also very interested in Marxist theory. So for me this edited volume was fantastic. Although some of the pieces are a bit dry, overall they're incredibly creative attempts to apply different theories to a very diverse cross-section of science fiction film and literature. I probably read the whole thing in two or three sittings.
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