By David M. Higgins
Technology fiction’s “inward” flip within the Nineteen Sixties coincides with an introspective shift in
British and American imperial imaginings. In a second while the correct of the “frontier”
is reworking in the US, and at a time while decolonization is reversing the eu
colonial undertaking, technology fiction turns its recognition to “inner” instead of “outer” areas,
and this introspective flip indexes the altering contours of imperial discourse and
practice within the Sixties. The technological know-how fiction of this era rejects the ontological
imperialism of modernist meta-narratives by way of exploring legitimate plural subjectivities; on the
same time, it indexes the ways that imperial energy can make the most of postmodern strategies to
retain asymmetrical privilege. This dissertation indexes chilly conflict alterations in
imperial imaginings within the fiction of Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke,
J. G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Thomas Disch, Philip okay. Dick, Philip
Jose Farmer, Joanna Russ, Samuel Delany, and Ursula ok. Le Guin. those texts provide
revealing insights into the ongoing strength of recent imperial recommendations and into
emergent formations of postmodern neo-imperialism.
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When invoking the threat of the Martian “peach switch,” however, Harshaw frames the situation in the context of a Hobbsian “state of nature” where force and power are the central considerations and where “right” is determined by “might” alone. To suggest that it is wrong to engage in colonial conquest because the “natives” might respond with military strength is to cede the possibility that it might be right to colonize if they were less powerful; there is a difference (which Heinlein elides) between the weak ethical position that it is inappropriate to steal from someone because they might fight back and the stronger ethical position which assumes that is it is inappropriate to commit theft in the first place.
Bowman‟s heightened capacity for self-mastery, framed in the novel as the essential characteristic of a true frontiersman, gives him the discipline to reach a faraway monolith on Iapetus which transports him to an alien consciousness-raising artifact left behind by a mysterious elder race that developed the monolith technology. Bowman‟s personal reserve in the face of fear during his journey to Saturn stands in sharp contrast to Hal‟s psychotic hysteria and dramatic loss of self-control; Bowman proves himself on the frontier by mastering his own involuntary reactions and emotions.
Early in the novel, Jubal berates Jill for threatening to turn Smith into a “conformist” by indoctrinating him into normative social 7 See Slusser, Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land (1976), Blackford, “Neo-Bible and Ur-Text: The „Original Uncut” Stranger in a Strange Land” (Foundation 53, 1991), and McGuirk, “Does Not Grok In Fullness (Science Fiction Studies 29:3, 2002). 39 behaviors, and when she argues that it is for his own good, he quips, “That‟s the excuse they gave the tomcat just before the operation” (136).