For those of you interested, there’s five new digital releases of Joanna Russ science fiction novels available. All are on Scribd, and if you haven’t check that out or her out you should. She’s weird and wonderful in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of James Tiptree/Alice Sheldon in her work and she’s adjacent in good ways to Samuel Delany.
Here’s some sci-fi, horror, and fantasy tropes or subgenres I can’t handle:
New Civilizations and their subsequent culture
All three work on the same primal fear for me. I am just now starting to figure out what this world is and its limits, boundaries, elements, and features. So adding radical new contexts for me is horrifying. So imagine the scene at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy where Peter Quill gets on the spaceship and discovers a whole new version of the cosmos out there. Me? No thank you. I might even choose to go down with the ship at the beginning of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I don’t want to process the radical shift in my consciousness. And so this novel, about a stranded space exploration craft trying to figure out how and if to set up a new colony where they land dredges up those same fears. If you’ve played Dead Space or seen Alien or that episode of X-Files “Ice” you know the experience of a narrative throwing us in at the end of closed off catastrophe. Here we get a front row seat.
And of course as with any kind of disaster turned utopian ideal (ala Candide or a hippie colony or The Last Man on Earth) as soon as there’s catastrophe dudes are all like “Let’s repopulate society, man,” which always makes me think of the Simpsons’ joke from Comic Book Guy:
“Inspired by the most logical race in the galaxy, the Vulcans, breeding
will be permitted once every seven years. For many of you this will
mean much less breeding, for me, much much more.”