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Editorial

Representations of Dystopia in Literature and Film

Pat Wheeler

In this issue of Critical Survey scholars from both Britain and North America analyse representations of dystopia in literature and film. In the keynote article, Patrick Parrinder offers an examination of Samuel Butler's Erewhon, contexualising it within the tradition of dystopian romance – which, he argues, saw a last flowering in the late nineteenth century. In a thought-provoking discussion Parrinder covers a range of utopian/dystopian narrative strategies and a selection of novels including The Time Machine, The coming Race and A Crystal Age.

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Introduction

Eco-dystopias – Nature and the Dystopian Imagination

Rowland Hughes and Pat Wheeler

When, at the climax of Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 film Planet of the Apes, the astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) discovers the torch of the Statue of Liberty poking through the shifting sands of a postapocalyptic world, his horrified, despairing cry – ‘We finally really did it! You maniacs! You blew it up!’ – encapsulated the nuclear anxiety of dystopian fiction and film in the 1950s and 1960s. Thirty-five years later, that iconic image of Liberty’s torch engulfed by natural forces was knowingly echoed in both Steven Spielberg’s AI and Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow, but in the first decade of the new millennium, the imagined apocalypse waiting to engulf the human race was not nuclear, but environmental: New York is swallowed by the rising waters of the Atlantic ocean, and frozen solid by the plunging temperatures of a new ice age. As these high-profile cinematic examples indicate, climate change has made its way towards the mainstream in recent years, on both the screen and the page, and has now eclipsed nuclear terror as the prime mover of the apocalyptic and dystopian imagination.

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Notes on Contributors

Jim Clarke, Soraya Copley, Rowland Hughes, Sidneyeve Matrix, Hannah Stark, and Pat Wheeler

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Contributors

Paul Bentley, James Booth, Mark Forshaw, Judy Hayden, Sharon Monteith, Jill Terry, Pat Wheeler, and Joanna Zylinska

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Contributors

Michael D. Amey, Douglas A. Cunningham, Paul March-Russell, Derek Maus, Patrick Parrinder, Aaron S. Rosenfeld, Ben Wheeler, and Pat Wheeler

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