Current Issue

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research 2/2020

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Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Esko Suoranta, Laura E. Goodin, & Dennis Wise
Editorial 2/2020

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Prefatory

Hanna-Riikka Roine
On Speculation as a Strategy

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Fafnir Becomes First Academic Journal to Win a World Fantasy Award

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Articles

Juan David Cruz-Duarte
Ray Bradbury on Race and Segregation: The Case of “Way in the Middle of the Air” and “The Other Foot”

Abstract: This article analyses two stories by Ray Bradbury, “Way in the Middle of the Air” (1950) and “The Other Foot” (1951), examining the author’s depiction of racial conflict and segregation in the US South and in an imaginary Martian town populated by African Americans. While “Way in the Middle of the Air” seems to champion a separationist approach to racial conflict, “The Other Foot” articulates the author’s hope for the formation of a post-racial society, in which black and white citizens will be able to live in harmony, as equals. Reading these stories in relation to each other enriches understanding of Bradbury’s take on race relationships in the United States, and of racial tensions in the American South during the Jim Crow era.

Keywords: Ray Bradbury, segregation, Jim Crow, utopia, science fiction, Mars.

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Aino-Kaisa Koistinen
Framing War and the Nonhuman in Science-Fiction Television: The Affective Politics of V

Abstract: This article investigates how war between humans and aliens is framed in the original and reimagined versions of the SF television series V and the affective responses and ethical considerations that these frames evoke. Inspired by the work of Judith Butler and Sarah Ahmed and by posthumanist thinking, I analyse how SF television takes part in the cultural formation of “livable lives” for both human and nonhuman beings. It is argued that the kinds of violence that art or the media, including fiction, represent matter for the formation of ethical and political responses to violence.

Keywords: Livability, affect, aliens, frames of war, science-fiction television, posthumanism

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Kevin Spicer
The AI Computer as Therapist: Using Lacan to Read AI and (All-Too-Human) Subjectivities in Science Fiction Stories by Bruce Sterling and Naomi Kritzer

Abstract: Naomi Kritzer’s 2016 Hugo Award-winning story “Cat Pictures Please” is narrated by a sentient AI that is interested not in being evil, like Hal, Skynet, or the Matrix, but in being every human being’s best friend and glorified life-coach; all it asks for in return is for everyone to post more cat pictures. In this essay I mine this story – along with a similar story from 1998 by Bruce Sterling that to which computer alludes explicitly – to read the potential personhood and subjectivity of this AI that just wants everyone to be happy. Placing this story in conversation with Lacanian psychoanalytic thought raises fascinating questions about the nature of subjectivity, personhood, desire, and the psychoanalytic “cure”.

Keywords: Lacan, psychoanalysis, science fiction, AI, desire, Naomi Kritzer, Bruce Sterling

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Katariina Kärkelä
Why is Reason a Vice? Empiricism, Rationalism, and Condemnation of Science in H. C. Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”

Abstract: This article studies the empiricist and rationalist worldviews presented in H. C. Andersen’s enigmatic fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. These two epistemic views are in contest not only with one another but also with the Christian doctrine that challenges them both and is offered in the tale as their superior alternative. While the empiricist and rationalist worldviews give the tale its epistemic aspects, the strong emphasis on Christian faith brings central ethical problems to the discussion, motivating the title’s question: why is reason a vice? By showing how empiricism and rationalism are presented in “The Snow Queen” and become embodied in the mirror-motif, this study seeks to provide an answer to the most disturbing ethical dilemma of the tale: scientific worldviews, such as empiricism and rationalism, and the Snow Queen herself in particular, are in the tale viewed as immoral and deceitful and abhorred by the protagonists, but this notion is in fact falsified by the tale’s own logic.

Keywords: H. C. Andersen, “The Snow Queen”, empiricism, literature and philosophy, rationalism

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Amanda Landegren
How the Fantastic Spaces in Memoirs of a Survivor and Neverwhere Destabilise the Notion of a Uniform, Homogeneous Urban Identity

Abstract: This article discusses how Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere question notions of self and identity through engagement with the fantastic urban space. Through the examination of the cityscape, maturity, and reconciliation the fantastic space is seen to have a disruptive and destabilising effect on the narrative and on the characters, which ultimately encourages a recontextualisation of identity. Hence the fantastic functions as a catalyst of transformation. Defamiliarisation of language and known codes of conduct signify a breakdown of the familiar, and the inability to regain ignorance ultimately prompts reconciliation with a new, diverse reality. Ultimately, the fantastic renders the city a heterogeneous, impossible space that leads to a corresponding, if gradual, change in identity from passive to active, from homogeneous to heterogeneous.

Keywords: urban fantasy, identity, cityscapes, transformation, space

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Eleanor Drage
Paths Towards Multispecies Superintelligence and Socio-Economic Justice: Nicoletta Vallorani’s Il Cuore Finto di DR

Abstract: This paper examines how non-unitary, responsive, and multispecies superintelligence can create an economic model that upends systems of race and gender in Nicoletta Vallorani’s Il Cuore Finto di DR. The novel depicts a dynamic slum ecosystem that sustains the lives and livelihoods of an array of human and non-human critters. At the heart of the slum economy is a Replicant-in-hiding called DR, whose gender- and species-destabilising body is evocative of Donna Haraway’s boundary creatures: she is an adaptive, inter-relational critter who bypasses traditional gendered markers of economic value and demonstrates a responsiveness to the needs of her community. Faithful to the multiple genealogies of humanistic Italian science fiction, Il Cuore Finto examines how adaptive superintelligent affiliations can transform not only the economy, but also the systems of race and gender that dictate which lives are valued in an unerring system of capital accumulation.

Keywords: Economics, science fiction, collective superintelligence, race, gender

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Book Reviews

T. S. Miller
Book Review: The Monster Theory Reader

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Brian Attebery
Book Review: Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children’s Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century

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Robert Finnigan
Book Review: Modernism and Time Machines

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Marjut Puhakka
Book Review: I Am Legend as American Myth: Race and Masculinity in the Novel and Its Film Adaptations

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Aino-Kaisa Koistinen
Book Review: Fake Geek Girls: Fandom, Gender, and the Convergence Culture Industry

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Anelise Farris
Book Review: Disability, Literature, Genre: Representation and Affect in Contemporary Fiction

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Daniel Lukes
Book Review: Canadian Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror: Bridging the Solitudes

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Conference Reports

Filip Boratyn
London Science Fiction Research Community

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Adam Edwards
CyberPunk Culture Conference 2020

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Lectio Praecursoria

Kaisa Kortekallio
Reading Mutant Narratives

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Call for Papers: Fafnir 2/2021

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