From Tolkien to Star Trek, from Game of Thrones to Battlestar Galactica, and from The Walking Dead to Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuturist concept albums, transmedia world-building offers us complex and immersive environments beyond capitalism. This book examines the ways in which these popular storyworlds offer tools for anticapitalist theory and practice. Building on Hardt and Negri’s theory of global capitalism, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Politics shows how transmedia world-building has the potential of offering more than a momentary escape from capitalist realism in the age of media convergence and participatory culture.
The book features eight fantastic storyworlds that offer vivid illustrations of global capitalism’s contradictory logic. Approaching transmedia world-building both as a cultural form and as a political economy, it demonstrates the limitations inherent in fandom and fan culture, which is increasingly absorbed as a form of immaterial labor. But at the same time, the book also explores the productive ways in which fantastic storyworlds contain a radical energy that can give us new ways of thinking about politics, popular culture, and anticapitalism.
Acknowledgments / 1. Imaginary Empires: Transmedia World-building and Global Capitalism / 2. World-building and Convergence Culture: From Imperialism to Empire / 3. Fantastical Capitalism and Post-ideological World-building / 4. Revolutionary Storyworlds and Post-democratic Capitalism / 5. Beyond Capitalism: Posthuman Storyworlds / 6. “Post”-script / Bibliography / Index
Dan Hassler-Forest is assistant professor of media and cultural studies at Utrecht University.
As Europe’s leading critic on transmedia culture, Dan Hassler-Forest’s Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Politics guides us through the landscapes of contemporary film, television, and video. From Tolkien to Afro-futurism, from Raymond Williams to Hardt and Negri, Hassler-Forest delivers a set of sharp commentaries on the hazards of capitalist mythologies and pitfalls of post-capitalist desires in these alternative lifeworlds.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Politics explores the intersection between world-building as practiced in speculative fiction and the desire to imagine (or constrain) alternatives to contemporary capitalism. He writes knowingly, affectionately, yet critically, about franchises as diverse as Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, and The Walking Dead, mapping the ways each embodies contradictions at the heart of neoliberal capitalism -- contradictions that surface in terms of their formal properties as transmedia franchises, their commercial contexts, and the consumer practices they inspire.
Science Fiction, Fantasy ,and Politics offers a wide ranging analysis of transmedia storyworlds and fan culture, covering branding, ‘Quality TV’, the HBO effect, political revolution, race and gender … [The book] is certainly an interesting and worthwhile read.