Call#: Van Pelt Library PN3433.6 .M69 2000
Tom Moylan’s invaluable study, Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia and Dystopia provides a unique, focused discussion of the concept of dystopia and its place within the genre of science fiction. Moylan looks at his subject material through a Marxist lens; unabashedly tendentious, the book explicitly links the rise of conservative governments with the proliferation of dystopian literature written to criticize contemporary trends. Moylan also conflates dystopian literature with anti-capitalism. In his view, dystopia captures the ecological and human costs of the capitalist system and its commodification of daily life. Moylan, unsurprisingly, is also very hostile to the United States and its central place in this hegemonic capitalist order; dystopian criticism in science fiction is often directed at the United States and its behavior during the Cold War. While Moylan does not explicitly mention THX 1138, the book’s Marxist hue provide an obvious platform for analysis. THX 1138’s bleak depiction of a future in which every action is subject to a cost-benefit analysis and workers are kept in line through the use of social norms and pharmaceuticals is saturated with criticisms of capitalism.
Aside from its value as a polemic, the work also provides an exploration of the dystopian narrative. Moylan positions dystopia on a continuum between utopia and anti-utopia. This complicated argument is detailed in chapter four. Chapter five provides a further elaboration and makes clear the predominately political nature of the dystopia. One interesting development within this type of literature is the idea that one can control society by controlling language. Taken in conjunction with the “Nuclear Criticism” described in David Seed’s American Science Fiction and the Cold War and the ritualization of dialogue—a process describes in Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film—Moylan’s work provides a powerful conceptual apparatus for analyzing science fiction film during the Cold War. More specifically, his work helps to identify the dystopian elements of THX 1138, puts them into a larger framework and draws attention to the political and economic trends the film seeks to criticize.
Call#: Van Pelt Video Collection; ask at Circulation Desk. DVD PN1995.9.S26 T49 2004