22.8 x 15.2 cm
Imprint: Camden House
German Science Fiction and Utopian Thought in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Since its beginnings, German Science Fiction (or SF) has engaged with social change and technological progress, often drawing from utopian thought. The writer Kurd Laßwitz challenged the authoritarian Wilhelmine order; later, film director Fritz Lang provided a searing critique of Weimar society. Meanwhile utopian thinkers like Ernst Bloch and Herbert Marcuse insisted on the possibility of hope, even in the face of totalitarianism. During the Cold War, German utopian writing and filmmaking were vital both as a warning and as a creative imagining of possible futures. More recently, as rapid scientific and technological advances have continued, literary and cinematic responses have become increasingly dystopian in outlook, reflecting fears connected with globalization, advances in artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, and persistent challenges like climate change, hunger, migration, and terrorism.
This book explores German SF's responses to the question how humanity can match technological advances with social, ethical, and moral progress. It surveys German utopian thought and the German SF tradition-both literary and cinematic-providing close readings of selected works that paradoxically reflect boundless optimism for the possibility of change and increasing pessimism in its likelihood. English translations are provided throughout. Building on its rich tradition but now confidently entering the mainstream, German SF attempts Zukunftsbewältigung: coping with an uncertain but also unwritten future.
Part I.The Great Discourse on the Future
Utopians and Utopian Thought
Futurists and Futures Studies
Utopian/Dystopian Writers and Utopian/Dystopian Fiction
Science Fiction: The Nexus of Utopianism, Futurism, and Utopian Fiction
Part II. German Science Fiction in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Some Preliminary Thoughts on German Science Fiction
First Contact: Martians, Sentient Plants, and Swarm Intelligences
The Shock of the New: Mega Cities, Machines, and Rockets
Utopian Experiments: Island Idylls, Glass Beads, and Eugenic Nightmares
To the Stars!: Cosmic Supermen and Bauhaus in Space
Visions of the End: Catastrophism and Moral Entropy
Virtual Realities: Caught in the Matrix
Alternative Histories: Into the Heart of Darkness
Big Brother is Watching Us: Who is Watching Big Brother?
Artificial Intelligences: The Rise of the Thinking Machines
Eternal Life: At What Cost?
Social Satires: Of Empty Slogans and Empty Hearts
Critical Posthumanism: Twilight of the Species or a New Dawn?
High Concept: Time, the Universe, and Everything
Appendix 1: Chronological List of German SF Novels-A Selection
Appendix 2: Chronological List of German SF Films-A Selection
"In his in-depth survey of the genre, Cornils brings an investigation of 125 years of science fiction to an otherwise linguistically limited Anglophone audience." THE YEAR'S WORK IN MODERN LANGUAGE STUDIES
"Cornils's work surveys a German SF landscape largely unknown to Anglophone readers, not least because many works have remained untranslated. That alone is a valuable service his book provides. [...] [W]hile it is useful for the monolingual Anglophone reader, this book is most valuable for those who are bilingual, and for those specifically interested in the state of discourse and commentary within Germany, by German literary critics, about German science fiction." GERMAN POLITICS AND SOCIETY
"Beyond Tomorrow deserves high praise. Cornils (Univ. of Leeds, UK) provides in-depth treatment of 70 German science fiction prose works and 25 films of the last 125 years, and the result is a sort of compendium of German science fiction. This remarkable achievement is further enhanced by clear writing free of jargon. Most of the works Cornils treats and most the sources he cites are in German, but every German quotation is excellently translated. . . . Summing up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." R.C. Conard, CHOICE
"The study's strength lies in its broad overview of German science fiction literature and film: Ingo Cornils traces the historical trajectory of science fiction ranging from its beginning at the end of the nineteenth century to recent publications. His comprehensive study . . . evokes a fascinating panorama of a yet undervalued literary field . . . . German studies in Anglophone countries will especially benefit from . . . this compendium, as it not only provides translations for all literary quotes but also all quoted secondary sources . . . ." Christina Becher, GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW
"Overall it should be said that Cornils's book fills a big gap for the Anglophone reader and is just as useful and informative for the German reader. His longer descriptions convey a good picture of the texts and films he covers. He provides interesting remarks on the peculiarities of the German variant [of sci-fi], especially in the postwar period, and with the concept of "Zukunftsbewältigung," or coping with the future, he has supplied a new keyword for science fiction." Hans Esselborn, ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR FANTASTIKFORSCHUNG
"[T]he publication of Ingo Cornils's study is to be welcomed: it marks a shift from the Anglophone preoccupation with the outdated discourse on Vergangenheitsbewältigung towards what Cornils aptly calls Zukunftsbewältigung. . . . The scope of Cornils's study is astonishing: it deals with 70 novels and 25 films [as well as] a wide range of SF films and TV formats. . . . Cornils's book . . . offer[s] a rich survey of the German SF tradition. Its coverage will make it an indispensable reference point and source book for further analyses of an unduly neglected genre." Anne Fuchs, MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW
"[G]estures toward the useful work to be done going forward in understanding German science fiction. . . . Cornils's efforts are necessary if scholars want to more fully understand the complex relationships between science fiction and society and how the former shapes human thought." Rachel Cordasco, JOURNAL OF THE FANTASTIC IN THE ARTS
"[A]n important, thoughtful, and welcome contribution to German and global science ﬁction studies. It offers an impressive overview of the history and state of German science ﬁction, and will no doubt dilate
many doors for readers of science ﬁction, old and new." Carl Gelderloos, Monatshefte
$125.00 / £105.00
£24.99 / $29.95
£24.99 / $29.95
2.28 x 1.52 cm
Imprint: Camden House