Un-American Dreams

BookUn-American Dreams

Un-American Dreams

Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Disimagined Community, and Bad Hope in the American Century

Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies, 74


May 1st, 2022



Other Formats



After the end, the world will be un-American. This speculation forms the nucleus of Un-American Dreams, a study of US apocalyptic science fiction and the cultural politics of disimagined community in the short century of American superpower, 1945–2001. Between the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which helped to transform the United States into a superpower and initiated the Cold War, and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which spelled the Cold War’s second death and inaugurated the War on Terror, apocalyptic science fiction returned again and again to the scene of America’s negation. During the American Century, to imagine yourself as American and as a participant in a shared national culture meant disimagining the most powerful nation on the planet. Un-American Dreams illuminates how George R. Stewart, Philip K. Dick, George A. Romero, Octavia Butler, and Roland Emmerich represented the impossibility of reforming American society and used figures of the end of the world as speculative pretexts to imagine the utopian possibilities of an un-American world. The American Century was simultaneously a closure of the path to utopia and an escape route into apocalyptic science fiction, the underground into which figures of an alternative future could be smuggled.


Author Information

J. Jesse Ramírez is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures7
Preface: The Dreams in Which I’m Dying9
Introduction: The Uses of Pseudo-Apocalypse17
1. The Last American: Earth Abides, Speculative Anthropology, and Settler Utopianism55
2. The Revelation of Philip K. Dick91
3. National Insecurity in Night of the Living Dead125
4. How to Bring Your Kids up Alien: Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy157
5. Waiting for the Martians: Independence Day and the Second American Century191
Conclusion: Pseudo-Apocalypse after the American Century221