This podcast will explore the ways in which national anxieties are manifest in science fiction. We will examine texts from Japan, Russia and Britain. The twentieth century was a tumultuous time for these countries, and greatly impacted the relationships between them. They endured two world wars, the Cold War, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. As Susan Sontag notes, “historical reality… greatly enlarged the imagination of disaster”. Science fiction’s tendency towards disaster and dystopia made it the perfect genre in which to explore the particular anxieties of the twentieth century, from the atom bomb to the growth of communism. Our discussion reveals the specific anxieties of the period as they vary between nations with different experiences and priorities. Science-fiction’s preoccupation with destruction and disaster allows these anxieties to be played out and explored cathartically.
Fiona will discuss Japanese sci-fi, focusing on Godzilla and the atomic bomb. She will analyse the film’s titular monster and compare the film’s reception in America to that in Japan. Emily will examine the short-lived trend of Soviet science-fiction, and how, despite being opposed to the later realist representation, it managed to define Russian anxieties and opinions of the time.
Finally, Cliodhna will explore the impact of the collapse of colonialism on British science fiction. Where their frustration with their lack of power and longing for days gone by is apparent in their use of time travel in her text- Doctor Who.
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