The Utopian Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twentieth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Utopian Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twentieth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Utopian Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twentieth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Utopian Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twentieth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Synopsis

Analyzes utopian and dystopian political systems through works of fantastic literature.

Excerpt

Thomas J. Morrissey

[Dreams come in the day as well as at night.]

—Ernst Bloch

A Philosophy of the Future (86)

[September 11,] [Al Qaeda,] [Osama bin Laden,] [anthrax,] [Iraq,] [weapons of mass destruction]: these are terms that either have become familiar or have taken on new meaning since attendees at the Twentieth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts explored utopia in 1999. For us who live in the far north, Ft. Lauderdale in March approaches utopia: nothing like an eighty-degree rise in temperature or the temporary replacement of snow-blinding landscape with eye-soothing green to make one believe in alternate realities. But as we flew to and from this extraordinary exploratory meeting of academicians, writers, editors, and artists, we could not know how different and traumatic air travel and much else would become just two and a half years later. We could not foresee the fall of the Twin Towers, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and whatever horrors have plagued humanity since the writing of this Introduction. Younger conference participants could certainly recall the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, genocide in Rwanda, or the Tiananmen Square massacre. Many of us were old enough to remember the murders of the Kennedys and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Cuban Missile Crisis. a smaller number could remember the initial revelation of the Holocaust or the spirit-killing deprivation of the Great Depression. No one present would have had first-hand experience with the Black Death, Genghis Khan, the fall of Troy, Knossos or a thousand other ancient cities, or the bitter last gasp of the most recent Ice Age that nearly finished off our species some 70,000 years ago. and Chicxulub—well, let's not go there. But we all knew that things like these have happened.

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