Academic journal article ARIEL

The Postclone-Nial in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Amitav Ghosh's the Calcutta Chromosome: Science and the Body in the Asian Diaspora

Academic journal article ARIEL

The Postclone-Nial in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Amitav Ghosh's the Calcutta Chromosome: Science and the Body in the Asian Diaspora

Article excerpt

  If you happen to actually live in a country that you think
  won't actually provide a broad enough setting to address what
  you see as the really crucial issues of the age, that inevitably
  means you start moving away from straight realism.
  Kazuo Ishiguro (Vorda and Herzinger 12)

I. Introduction: Asia, Modernity, Narration

Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome (1995) and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005) are relatively rare instances of Anglophone writers of the Asian diaspora using the themes and conventions of science fiction (Chambers).1 While examples of science fiction-like texts from popular fiction and media can certainly be adduced--including the writings of Manjula Padmanabhan, Haruki Murakami, and Koji Suzuki, well-known Japanese anime productions like Ghost in the Shelly and short stories represented by such anthologies as Speculative Japan (2007, edited by Grania Davis and Gene van Troyer) and So Long Been Dreaming (2004, an anthology of work by writers of Asian, African, and Aboriginal descent, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan)--many of these were originally written in languages other than English, consequently do not have much international circulation, and indeed may not be very well known even in their countries of origin. This is a stark contrast to the long history, popularity, social and literary impact, and ubiquity of science fiction in Western Europe and North America, where it not only has a loyal following in its "hardcore" forms ( novels, short stories, television, and film) but also crosses easily into "serious" literature (one thinks of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, George Orwell's 1984, Anthony Burgess's 1985, and A Clockwork Orange, among many others). However true Brooks Landon's observation that "science fiction in the twentieth century has moved from the fringes to the center of modern consciousness" (4-5) is of the Western European and Northern American markets that dominate the production and consumption of science fiction, it does not seem to represent the very different context of the developing nations of Asia.

There are, of course, social and contextual reasons for this vastly different response to and production of science fiction narratives in developed as opposed to developing nations, the foremost of these likely being the extensive and involved socioeconomic problems within many of the Asian nations that attained independence around the middle of the twentieth century. Nations like India, China, and Indonesia--among the most heavily populated nations in the world--continue to struggle with the problems of populations straining the meagre limits of their various infrastructural capabilities and economic resources, as well as with ecological and agricultural problems in their vast rural areas. These and other nations in (especially) South and Southeast Asia also struggle with problems of sectarianism and social inequality due to ethnic heterogeneity, religious politics, rapid social change at odds with cultural traditionalism, and other similar factors. Where pockets of economic and technological success do take hold--for example, in the rise of Information Technology (IT) professionals in India, or of highly educated professional classes in places like Sri Lanka, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore--they are often accompanied by the familiar phenomena of talent mobility or exodus, poaching or exploitation of talent by foreign agencies, capital flight, elite stratification, and other issues (Wong, Pflegerl, Khoo, Yeoh, Koh; D'Costa; Baliga). Information Technology itself is an interesting touchstone: often seen as the embodiment of or hope for an open, wired global society, it still reveals the fundamental imbalance between technology possessed by the "East" and "West." In regional terms, Asia only has a fraction of the Internet bandwidth that the US, Canada, and Europe, enjoy; problems of state surveillance and control still dog the use of the Internet and spread of connectivity in a number of Asian nations; and countries at the bottom of the IT pecking order (including Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Myanmar) have almost negligible computer access rates, with less than ten personal computers for every one thousand people in the population (Rao 9; Ho, Kulver and Yang 3; Lyon). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.