Biopunk Dystopias Genetic Engineering, Society and Science Fiction

Lars Schmeink

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ISBN: 9781781383766

Publication: December 9, 2016

Series: Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies 56

In the USA? Buy the Hardback US edition
'Biopunk Dystopias' contends that we find ourselves at a historical nexus, defined by the rise of biology as the driving force of scientific progress, a strongly grown mainstream attention given to genetic engineering in the wake of the Human Genome Project (1990-2003), the changing sociological view of a liquid modern society, and shifting discourses on the posthuman, including a critical posthumanism that decenters the privileged subject of humanism. The book argues that this historical nexus produces a specific cultural formation in the form of "biopunk", a subgenre evolved from the cyberpunk of the 1980s. The analysis deals with dystopian science fiction artifacts of different media from the year 2000 onwards that project a posthuman intervention into contemporary socio-political discourse based in liquid modernity in the cultural formation of biopunk. Biopunk makes use of current posthumanist conceptions in order to criticize contemporary reality as already dystopian, warning that a future will only get worse, and that society needs to reverse its path, or else destroy all life on this planet. As Rosi Braidotti argues, "there is a posthuman agreement that contemporary science and biotechnologies affect the very fibre and structure of the living and have altered dramatically our understanding of what counts as the basic frame of reference for the human today". The proposed book analyzes this alteration as directors, creators, authors, and artists from the field of science fiction extrapolate it from current trends. An Open Access edition of this work is available on the OAPEN Library.

Lars Schmeink is Professor of Media Studies at the Institut für Kultur- und Medienmanagement of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg and the editor of Collision of Realities: Establishing Research on the Fantastic in Europe. (Berlin: DeGruyter, 2012).

Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2. Dystopia, Science Fiction, Posthumanism, and Liquid Modernity 3. The Anthropocene, the Posthuman, and the Animal 4. Science, Family, and the Monstrous Progeny 5. Individuality, Choice, and Genetic Manipulation 6. The Utopian, the Dystopian, and the Heroic Deeds of One 7. 9/11 and the Wasted Lives of Posthuman Zombies 8. Conclusion Works Cited Index

'Each discussion engages thoroughly with relevant scholarship, from biopolitics to game studies to creature films and the horror genre. Together, they make a convincing case that biological themes are prominent in contemporary sf across media, appearing in works that are marked by a critically dystopian sensibility.'
Rebecca Wilbanks, Science Fiction Studies Review


Lars Schmeink’s Biopunk Dystopias provides a useful, and mostly persuasive, account of the visions of bioengineering that have come to populate post-2000 science fiction. All of the chapters are dense and rich with insights.
Steven Shaviro, Journal for the Fantastik in the Arts


‘Biopunk Dystopias represents a substantial contribution to the field and marks Lars Schmeink as a formidable researcher. With the commercialisation of the life sciences continuing apace, the insights he offers in this book will only become more pertinent over the coming years. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the mutated future rushing straight for us.’
Jack Fennell, Fantastika


'A comprehensive, meticulously researched, and wide-ranging intervention in the union between genetic discourse and contemporary science fiction that has the potential to be very influential in the field.'
Professor Gerry Canavan, Marquette University


'An important intervention into the ways sf studies is done - it is no longer even remotely credible to treat sf as just a literary genre - and the strengths of this book makes that argument more effectively than any polemic about the transmediality of sf.'  
Mark Bould, University of the West of England


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

288 Pages

ISBN: 9781781383766

Publication: December 9, 2016

Series: Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies 56

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