California through the eyes of the future; landscape in science fiction.

Authors: Fiona Davidson*, University Of Arkansas
Topics: Cultural Geography, Landscape, United States
Keywords: science fiction, landscape, California
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 46
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


From Philip K. Dick’s dark, dystopian San Francisco to Kim Stanley Robinson’s utopian El Modena, landscape and place have been integral components in the manifestation and visualization of popular culture’s collective imagined futures. This paper discusses the many and varied ways in which the landscapes of California are envisioned in both the near and far future. Using the critical frameworks of humanist geography, specifically the works of Tuan, Buttimer, Ley, and Adams, the paper examines the ways in which science fiction and fantasy uses landscape as an essential canvas on which the future of California is created. With Kim Stanley Robinson’s ground-breaking Three Californias trilogy as a guiding structure, the paper is organized around three science fiction place-archetypes; dystopia, utopia and techno-topia (autotopia, E-topia) with both science fiction and fantasy works used to illustrate how these futures might be constructed. Drawing on authors as diverse as Neal Stephenson, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Daniel Suarez and others, the paper examines the use of landscape as an essential backdrop in the creation of future worlds.

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