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Alien Zone II: The Spaces of Science Fiction Cinema

Annette Kuhn

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ISBN 10: 1859842593 / ISBN 13: 9781859842591
Published by Verso, 1999
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Alien Zone II: The Spaces of Science Fiction...

Publisher: Verso

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

About this title


Science fiction, more than any other film genre, allows cinema to exhibit its own distinctive matters of expression. Whether these be the state-of-the-art special effects technologies of 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the symbolic imagery of ruined cityscapes in Blade Runner, they allow the spectator to experience the totality of the audiovisual thrill.

While this remains in many ways the core defining feature of the genre, recent trends in the study of science fiction cinema have seen a shift of focus away from the specifically cinematic towards the more broadly cultural. New technologies of communication and vision, revolutionary developments in the delivery and reception of moving-image media, the increasing importance of the notion of space: all are forcing new and different ways of thinking about the genre.

Alien Zone II presents some of the most exciting new voices in the current debates. A companion volume to Alien Zone, it continues to pursue the critical and theoretical issues opened up in the earlier book and energetically explores fresh territory with an eye which is both reflective and interventionist: visionary cities, psycho-cybernetics, internet fandom, the convergence of science fiction literature and science action film, the body and its limits are just some of the subjects brought under its gaze.


In his poem "Ozymandias," Percy Bysshe Shelley imagined discovering a stone torso from millennia past and reading the (ironic) inscription, "Look on me, ye mighty, and dread." According to most of the writers in this probing collection of essays, each generation gets hooked on the utopian and dystopian visions of the future for the same reason--because they offer the chilling insight that our world is the fragments of futures to come. Since Georges Melies's Voyage to the Moon (1902), science fiction movies have speculated about what life in other places and times would be like. Under editor Annette Kuhn's direction, the contributors to Alien Zone 2 have taken it upon themselves to think out loud about how "space" works in sci-fi movies like Brazil, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Metropolis, and the Alien series. The way these films structure cities, conceptualize culture, and imagine psyches generally falls, it turns out, into a category that UCLA professor Vivian Sobchak calls "future noir," featuring terrifying visions of cities in which a faceless multinational power sits atop thrillingly disenfranchised lumps of humanity. Distressing as this scenario sounds, most of the writers take it as an opportunity to reinvigorate our sense of the possibilities of the present, whether political, aesthetic, or otherwise. Writing about race, women, cyborgs, or consumer-culture, they key in on the genius in these movies that has at once invented a three-dimensional world and performed a kind of radical keratotomy on our own vision of things. Some academic jargon in the collection may be off-putting, but razor-sharp insights are here in abundance. --Lyall Bush

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