Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions

ISBN: 1844670333
ISBN 13: 9781844670338
By: Fredric Jameson

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Critical Theory Currently Reading Essays Non Fiction Philosophy Science Fiction Theory To Read Utopia Utopia Dystopia

About this book

In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful?Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogates the functions of utopian thinking in a post-Communist age.The relationship between utopia and science fiction is explored through the representations of otherness - alien life andalien worlds - and a study of the works of Philip K. Dick, UrsulaK. LeGuin, William Gibson, Brian Aldiss, Kim Stanley Robinson, and more.Jameson’s essential essays, including “The Desire Called Utopia,”conclude with an examination of the opposing positions on utopia and an assessment of its political value today.

Reader's Thoughts

Gregg Wingo

A non-apologetist review of the science fiction genre through the eyes of America's leading postmodernist thinker. You will need to bring your knowledge of the Western Canon and contemporary philosophy with you in order to fully appreciate this text. Its division into books I and II enables regular science fiction readers to access straight forward reviews in Book II.Expect to learn from this book and don't expect him to enshrine SF into the Western Canon but rather to provide you with an understanding of the zeitgeist of the history of the genre and ourselves. Authors reviewed range from Dick to Robinson, Brunner to Le Guin. With a focus on utopianism and dystopia the subjects covered are sex and society, aliens and psychoanalyst, and the motifs and mechanics of this writing field.Jameson also remarks on the differences between hard science fiction and fantasy. He clearly traces the link between the utopian members of the Western Canon and the rise of science fiction's paraliterature, and the societal needs for these works and their roots in the human collective conscienceness. He also notes the limits of critical literature and the "drift" of high literature into the domain of science fiction in recent years as a result of our postmodern condition and the limits of critical literature to deal with the disassociative nature of the contemporary experience.The reader will be left with an understanding of the genre, our times, and our historical basis. He or she will also be perplexed as to how science fiction was replaced by fantasy as the popular literature of our times at the same moment it matured as a literary entity. One will also begin to understand how the internal dynamics of science fiction and its authors went from the popularizers of American modernism and imperialism to become the primary opponents of modernism in our times.Be forewarned that Jameson does not see Marxism as a bad word but rather a critical tool for evaluating society.

Scott Neigh

Read partially for school. May go back and read it more thoroughly at some point, as there were some quite compelling bits, but not for the moment.


Pretty cool.

Sofia Samatar

Jameson is always readable, and offers some great insights on literary utopias. I found the essays in the beginning of the book more interesting than the literary analysis toward the end--I don't know why, I just didn't feel like I was getting anything really NEW on Le Guin, for example. What I liked most about the book is the way Jameson expresses his own ambivalence about treating sf in this high-academic fashion. It's not because he thinks sf isn't good enough; it's because he doesn't want it to get co-opted by academic criticism. Worth thinking about.


Brilliant novel, but very dense and difficult to follow if you're not plugged into the conversation already. Jameson's book speaks to a very specific audience, and if you are not part of that audience, prepare to be left in the dust.


Eh. He wanders. A lot. And I guess I should be more accepting of that, but really he's all over the place. And in the context of Utopian studies, I imagine it all kind of makes sense, but the problem is that it really does seem like the science fiction and anti-utopian are just welded on here until the second part which, unfortunately, is mostly just rehashing the same things from earlier in the book. Get Freedman's "Science Fiction and Critical Theory" instead.


It's a book dealing with criticism and sci-fi, there wasn't any way I wasn't going to like it. Some skimming of important, low-culture pulp science fiction in favour of that post-WW2 world-building thing (hence 'Utopia') which isn't much of a criticism, because the book would be too chunky if it were trying to examine the entire genre. It's chunky as it is. You can pick the bits of Marxist analysis out of your teeth at the end, if they're not to your taste; it doesn't bias Jameson over-much in his focused analysis, even if it does lead him to favour writers like Le Guin and Meiville waaaay over your Heinleins and Huxleys.I don't know; I'd sugget taking a look at it, if it's your cup of what have you.


Jameson's book is comparable in stature and ambition to Georg Lukacs's _The Historical Novel_, which Jameson himself has dubbed the most significant volume of dialectical literary criticism. Jameson succeeds in doing for science fiction--particularly in its utopian form--what Lukacs did for the historical novel. _Archaeologies of the Future_ is a major achievement of materialist critique.


Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity


I love Jameson and his approach. Really integral to my thesis on utopia. Not for everyone though...

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