Blasim, Hassan. “The Gardens of Babylons.” In Iraq + 100: The First Anthology of Science Fiction to Have Emerged from Iraq, edited by Hassan Blasim, First U.S. edition. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2017. (PDF)
Yoss. A Planet for Rent. Translated by David Frye. Restless Books, 2015. (Download ePub) ATTENTION: A Planet For Rent includes explicit discussions of sex work, extreme sexual encounters, and graphic body horror.
- For Rent, One Planet, 1-2
- Social Worker, 3-27
- Mestizos, 28-30
- Performing Death, 31-66
- The World Human Parliament, 67-8
- “Science fiction is the only literature today capable of capturing not only the decisions we’re making in the present but also the consequences these decisions can have on our future.” – Yoss
Liu, Cixin. “The Wandering Earth.” In The Wandering Earth. London, England: Head of Zeus, 2017. (Download ePub)
Geek of the Week
- Artist Ahaad Alamoudi’s response to NEOM (video below)
- Blade Runner (1982) – Syd Mead
- Herb A. Lightman, “Discussing the Set Design of Blade Runner,” American Cinematographer, October 7, 2020.
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) (video below)
- Blade Runner (1982) – Syd Mead
- Ghost in the Shell (1995) & Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocent (2004) – Hiromasa Ogura
- Patrick Lum, “Ghost in the Shell’s urban dreamscapes: behind the moody art of the anime classic,” The Guardian, August 2 , 2018. (video below)
- Cyberpunk 2077 (2020) – CD PROJEKT RED
- “Night City,” Cyberpunk Wiki, accessed March28, 2022. (videos below)
Theory and Commentary
Childs, Mark C. 2015. Learning from New Millennium Science Fiction Cities. Journal of Urbanism 8(1): 97-109.
Kochin, Rob & James Kneale. 2001. Science fiction or future fact? Exploring imaginative geographies in the new millennium. Progress in Human Geography 25(1):19-35.
Naffis-Sahely, André. “Shelf Life.” Nation 301, no. 11/12 (September 14, 2015): 37–37.
L.A. 2013 (a view from 1988)
1. Do the references to other works of literature in The Gardens of Babylon alienate readers who are not familiar with them? Conversely, do they add depth for those that do?
2. Our readings for this week explore the visual aesthetics of future cities. What might be some other sensorial attributes? What do these cities smell like? What kind of sounds are there?
3. While reading Performing Death, I found it impossible to concentrate on Moy’s words interspersed between the violence done to his body. Is his speech necessary for the performance piece, or does it simply provide a veneer over the brutality of the act?
1. How does scale and popular culture play a role in Blade Runners cityscapes?
2. In A Planet for Rent, how is Earth’s relationship with the other planets reminiscent of the United State’s relationship with other countries? Is history bound to repeat itself in the human need to dominate? Or will extraterrestrial life prove to be morally superior?
3. This new multi-planet universe appears to be advanced in many ways, but it’s evident the color of your skin still matters. Why does hierarchy and inequity associated with race remain constant with the terrestrial species?
1. To what extent shall we consider present issues when designing the future city/land/worldscapes?
2. What are the exact characteristics of architecture that can remind audiences of the future? Why are they perceived as futuristic?
3. How to achieve novelty and rationality simultaneously when designing and presenting the future city/land/worldscapes?
1) Whose worlds are actually being built-in Science Fiction, and in the building of them are individuals being left out?
2) To what extent are city/land/ worldscapes important to Science Fiction?
3) Is it easier to believe the creation of Science Fiction landscapes in text or in a video?
1. One common theme in future cityscapes is that of flying/floating objects and holograms. This was even true of the future city predictions of decades ago. Why do you think this is?
2. The idea of psychedelic insects is interesting and reminiscent of nanotechnology. What would the ethics be of having someone else control the insect for you as Sara did in “The Gardens of Babylon?”
3. To what extent can privacy exist in a future cityscape — especially if so much of technology is based off personal data?
1. To what degree is arab sci-fi maintains/balances familiarity with unfamiliarity? What is the role of the delicate balance in writing for scifi?
2. What role can science fiction take in places where the present is dystopian?
3. In What ways is scifi and worldbuilding inherently similar projects? How is UAE/KSA indicative of this?
1. Coming from a country that is a late-bloomer in terms of technological infrastructure, living in New York has been a ‘futuristic’ ride for me, and I’m sure I’ll feel the same in metropolitan cities in countries such as Japan, China, or UAE. The concept of sci-fi landscapes is a bit different for me when looked at from a purely Indian perspective. Today, in present time, are there any things/cities/lands that you find futuristic or sci-fi-esque?
2. Will science-fiction cease to exist the moment our future becomes clear?
3. What kind of sci-fi worldscapes will/can emerge from the imagination of the least-privileged citizens of our planet? Is sci-fi classist?
1. Why is there such a strong emphasis on hyper- or hypo-semiotic spaces (ie cities overflowing with signs and symbols or desert devoid of any meaningful features)?
2. How does our behaviour during COVID relate with Cixin Liu’s vision of an all-sacrificing, work-driven humanity in times of crisis? We did sacrifice many pleasures to focus on “survival” but we also found many new ways of escaping reality.
3. Are SF mega-cities the new objects of the Kantian sublime? Does it mean that mankind’s creation are or will be on par with godly creations?
Sorry I didn’t notice that my questions are failed to post on the site until just now.
1. It’s really interesting to consider NEOM from the perspective of sci-fi as in another class of mine we have always been discussing future cities or “Concept-city” on the level of urbanization or state/nation. Can sci-fi works in some ways become the blueprint of future human communities or they are just representations of collective imagination at the moment?
2. The “Night City” also inspires me a lot. I feel like the form of the encyclopedia is an interesting way to carry out sci-fi concepts other than traditional literary works or films. Maybe online archives or digital museums are a similar way of it.
3. The Wandering Earth shows how the city form and social order will change according to outer nature and human conditions. I wonder if we can restore Cixin Liu’s full image of the city plan, for example, What is the relationship between the city and the federal government? How do people move between cities, and has citizenship replaced nationality?
1. What is beauty in the future? I can’t imagine it will be tech, but rather nature. All the neon and signs, and colors seem more over whelming than soothing. In the future would’t want to escape the overwhelming nature of tech?
2. i wonder why the future isn’t here yet. Can’t flying cars work? I believed that NYC would be all driverless car taxi’s by now. with a barrier that says from below 96th street, only Uber Taxi’s – electric, without drives, would make the city safer and cleaner. But when Bloomberg tried to even put in zone pricing for cars below 96th drivers went nuts. Politics stands in the way of progress.
3. In A Planet for Rent, sex is presented as purchasable pleasure – and kink. But i wonder if the future – if people are search for pleasure – drugs or VR wouldn’t be more extreme, more pleasurable – less physical?