Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought

Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought

Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought

Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought

Excerpt

Upon their release at the turn of the twenty-first century, the Matrix films had an immediate impact on popular imagination in the United States. The Hollywood-produced science fiction trilogy triggered questions about reality, self-determination, and resistance while setting new standards for film technology. With its clever plotline and breathtaking special effects, the trilogy became both a blockbuster hit surrounded by the usual media hype and an inspiration for academic debates. The Matrix also introduced a new female character to our cultural imagination: the movie-going public fell hard for Trinity, a strong, smart, action-driven resistance fighter and the hero's romantic interest. Trinity joins the ranks of a number of extraordinary female science fiction heroes, such as Ripley from the Alien film series and Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies. These female characters share an unusual display of technological know-how, empowerment, and the habit of saving the world. They also have "unnatural" female bodies (often technologically enhanced or genetically engineered) and do "unfeminine" things. Significantly, it is within science fiction—film and literature—a genre usually understood to be predominantly male, that we seem to reimagine gender relations most radically. Here the controversial female cyborg challenges conventional ideas of gender, race, and nation, often at the same time as she reinforces them. Through figures like the female cyborg, Alien Constructions explores the relationship between science fiction and a feminist discourse that is attempting to conceptualize issues of difference, globalization, and technoscience.

Science fiction is valuable to feminists because of its particular narrative mode. Two textual aspects that define science fiction are the structures and/or narrative devices that constitute its mode, on one hand, and themes and approaches on the other. Several structures and narrative devices of science fiction have been identified in classical science fiction criticism, such as the element of estrangement, or the confrontation of normative systems/perspectives, and the implication of . . .

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