Science fiction as revolution

It is possible then to think about SF not in the bourgeois terms of the novel, but as an experimental science. The object of study is not the ideological reproduction of SF, but a philosophical self-reflection upon these conditions of ideological reproduction. To read is to discover the absolute difference a novel has from its own ideological form, to the degree that it overcomes its own implication in bourgeois structures of generic reproduction.

Consequently, Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which imagines a human species without a sex drive, can be taken as a concrete, scientific suggestion to engineer a human society that is not warped by libidinal investments. In looking to the limits of a world of ideological reproduction, Le Guin engineers that shock and disgust of actual difference, and its possibility in the science of genetics. Reading Le Guin as a proposition of actual difference brings the experience of reading closer to us, without the distorting effects of interpretation and ideas of mediation. Althusser’s critique of ideology creates opportunities for discovering the experimental science that SF has in common with revolutionary consciousness. For Althusser, such science is the self-consciousness of capitalism, and enables a thinking of the conditions by which capitalism produces ideology. In Le Guin’s novel, for instance, the figuration of a world without sex reveals the ideology of a sexed world. This is revolutionary because, as that which eludes ideology, this world without sex does not repeat that which has gone before, but inhabits the contemporary moment of creation. In this, Althusser looks to the absolute difference that escapes historical repetition, that creates the consciousness that is of itself revolutionary. SF is, as a genre, a structure of ideological reproduction, but it also fosters a critical and revolutionary consciousness of absolute difference.

Darren Jorgensen “Towards a Revolutionary Science Fiction: Althusser’s Critique of Historicity,” 205.

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