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Beyond the Anthropocene

Un-Earthing an Epoch

Valerie Olson and Lisa Messeri

As “the Anthropocene” emerges as a geological term and environmental analytic, this paper examines its emerging rhetorical topology. We show that Anthropocene narratives evince a macroscale division between an “inner” and “outer” environment. This division situates an Anthropocenic environment that matters in the surface zone between Earth's subsurface and the extraterrestrial “outer spaces” that we address here. We review literature in the sciences and social sciences to show how contemporary environmental thinking has been informed by understandings of Earth's broader planet-scaled environmental relations. Yet, today's Anthropocene conversation draws analytic attention inward and downward. Bringing in literature from scholars who examine the role of the extraterrestrial and outer environmental perspectives in terrestrial worlds, we suggest that Anthropocenic theorizations can productively incorporate inclusive ways of thinking about environments that matter. We argue for keeping “Anthropocene” connected to its spatial absences and physical others, including those that are non-anthropos in the extreme.

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Home and Away

The Politics of Life after Earth

Micha Rahder

This article examines the reinvigoration of outer space imaginaries in the era of global environmental change, and the impacts of these imaginaries on Earth. Privatized space research mobilizes fears of ecological, political, or economic catastrophe to garner support for new utopian futures, or the search for Earth 2.0. These imaginaries reflect dominant global discourses about environmental and social issues, and enable the flow of earthly resources toward an extraterrestrial frontier. In contrast, eco-centric visions emerging from Gaia theory or feminist science fiction project post-earthly life in terms that are ecological, engaged in multispecies relations and ethics, and anticapitalist. In these imaginaries, rather than centering humans as would-be destroyers or saviors of Earth, our species becomes merely instrumental in launching life—a multispecies process—off the planet, a new development in deep evolutionary time. This article traces these two imaginaries and how they are reshaping material and political earthly life.

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When the Future Is Hard to Recall

Episodic Memory and Mnemonic Aids in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival

Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski

Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 science-fiction film Arrival presents a tale of first contact between humans and extraterrestrials. Giant octopus-like aliens arrive in enormous lozenge-shaped spacecraft and hover over twelve locations around the earth

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Back in Time Yet of His Time

Marty McFly as a 1980s Teenage Boy Role Model

Daniel Smith-Rowsey

boys than is often understood. Like many of them, Marty is prototypical of what I might call Generation Sample, using bits and pieces of every decade as he sees fit, as in one of his few moments of proactivity: “I am Darth Vader, an extra-terrestrial

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Daniel M. Knight

contemplate their relationship with time, with stories of temporal paradoxes, cyclical and anomalous time, and time travel. For Despoina, the fictional exploration of extra-terrestrial phenomena in the cosmos provides an ‘enduring horizon for meaning

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Buffeted by Political Winds

Children’s Literature in Communist Romania

Adrian Solomon

hibernation ( Moisescu 1963: 34–36 ). C ase 3 Innocuous contamination seeps even into a sci-fi story that moves back and forth between ancient civilizations of Earth and extraterrestrial worlds, where we are told that the Martian expedition had arrived on