Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction

By Wendy Gay Pearson; Veronica Hollinger et al. | Go to book overview

'Something Like a Fiction': Speculative
Intersections of Sexuality and
Technology

Veronica Hollinger

If gender is the social construction of sex, and if there is no access to
this 'sex' except by means of its construction, then it appears not only
that sex is absorbed by gender, but that 'sex' becomes something like a
fiction, perhaps a fantasy…

— Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter 5

Alas! those who were shocked at my making love that way to a man are
now shocked at my making love to a machine; you can't win.

— Joanna Russ, The Female Man 200

In his recent cultural history of the genre, Roger Luckhurst astutely describes the project of science fiction as 'speculation on the diverse results of the conjuncture of technology and subjectivity' (222). In the past two decades or so, Anglo-American sf has undertaken this kind of speculative project in the most literal of ways – the concretization of metaphor being a particularly favoured sf strategy – whether exploring the impact of technoculture on the human subject as such in its many cyborg stories or attempting to trace the ontological features of our artificial progeny in stories about robots and other forms of artificial intelligences. Since the mid-1980s in particular, especially in response to the cyberpunk phenomenon, sf has almost obsessively (re)imagined the post-human subject at a variety of 'conjunctures' with the technological.1

But the post-human has a history, and so I will focus this discussion on pre-cyberpunk science fiction in order to examine some of sf's earlier literalizations of our increasingly intimate relations with/in the cultures of technology. In part I want to draw attention to the complex interplay between pre-cyberpunk fiction and some of sf's more recent representations of the post-human. In part I want to acknowledge the historical

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