HODA M. ZAKI
Science fiction is a form of popular culture that speculates about the human condition by creating imaginary societies located in the future. Enormously widespread, science fiction is found in a variety of forms, ranging from novels and short stories to films and cartoons. Science fiction's imaginary societies are linked to the author's and reader's imaginations through extrapolation, a process by which an author extends a pattern from the past or present society into the future. These patterns may be economic, social, technological, political, or religious. Grounded in the author's present, these imagined societies often carry over prejudicial assumptions without comment. This is true of even the most "alien" societies described in the genre. I want to show here how two respected science fiction writers, one of them a radical feminist, perpetuate perceptions of Arabs and Arab society in their novels in a manner which Edward Said has characterized as "Orientalist." Such writings, while different, continue to deliver one-dimensional and stereotypical notions of Arabs and Arab society to a wide readership. Because of the genre's enormous popularity, they can be seen as a significant cultural mechanism that helps to create a context which the U.S. government can continue to assert its hegemony, convincing its citizens on an ideological plane that its actions towards Arabs at home and abroad are justified. Popular forms of entertainment not only passively reflect current social prejudices, but also actively work to shape viewers' and readers' worldviews.
Frank Herbert's Dune series became a classic in science fiction. * Critics and readers alike reveled in the densely textured detail of a nomadic culture and hailed Herbert's imaginative achievements as unparalleled. Dune describes Arrakis, a water‐ starved planet whose indigenous population, the Fremen, are nomadic and deeply mystical. It is only on Arrakis that the spice,____________________