Eckart Voigts, Alessandra Boller (eds.)


Dystopia, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalypse

Classics - New Tendencies - Model Interpretations

Contents (PDF)



Dystopian and post-apocalyptic narratives, often within the generic framework of science fiction, are currently enjoying a remarkable popularity. Two world wars that brought the nemesis of technology and rationality, large-scale industrialism, collectivism and mass culture – these are historical stepping stones towards the rise of the classic dystopian and apocalyptic imagination in the 20th century. Since then, narratives of a future societal collapse have responded to a set of urgent challenges that, if anything, have increased at the beginning of the 21st century, from climate change and other eco-disasters to the economic crises of globalisation, fundamentalist counter-reactions to modernity, the rise of Big Data, the scientific dynamics in biotechnology, wild urbanisation, migration and displacement, and more.

This collection of essays presents an introduction to the field, providing model analyses of key texts, and taking a look at these visions of crisis and collapse not only in prose fiction, but also in films, graphic novels and computer games. Structured according to the main thematic and conceptual clusters (totalitarian, biopolitical, mechanistic, ambiguous, religious, eugenic dystopia etc.), this handbook offers fresh readings of the classics of dystopian literature (Wells, Orwell, Huxley, Forster, Golding, and others). It also focuses on the defining current fictions that resonate with readers and viewers around the globe, from Margaret Atwood’s eco-dystopias and the gendered science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia Butler to post-colonial (J. M. Coetzee), post-nuclear and postmodern dystopias (Blade Runner, The Matrix, Cloud Atlas), and from cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic narratives such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to young adult dystopias such as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.


"The time is overdue for a more fine-grained approach to the place of the (sub-)genres of dystopia and postapocalypse within the discipline, especially for the purposes of teaching at undergraduate level. The dystopian focus of Voigts and Boller's text is therefore a welcome and timely addition to the field. [...] The chapters are generally written in a clear and accessible style, and with the undergraduate audience in mind. [...] a real strength of the volume is that the authors tend to situate their respective individual texts within a wide contextual and critical reading. [...] in the tackling of a diverse set of texts and theoretical angles this handbook makes a worthy addition to the scholarly and pedagogical field on dystopian and utopian literature. [...] It takes its place alongside introductory texts that focus primarily on utopian literature and utopianism such as Greg Claeys' The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (2010) and Lyman Tower Sargent' Utopianism: A Very Short Introduction (2010).[...] Voigts and Boller's volume is a timely and useful book that will help Anglophone readers and learners to navigate the genre and provide a platform for further exploration of the critical field." Adam Stock, York St. John University, Anglia 2016; 134(2): 345-349.

[Rezension von Till Kinzel: IFB 23 (2015)]

Rezension von Stefan Lampadius: Anglistik 27.2 (September 2016)


ISBN 978-3-86821-565-6, 440 S., kt., € 37,50 (2015)

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