January 12, 2016
Today I want to offer some remarks on the sub-genre of science fiction commonly known as the post-apocalyptic in order to address the topic at hand, thinking totality as remedy to the trouble with the trouble with diversity. This variety of science fiction story imagines a near-future scenario set just after a major destructive event. The plague has already run rampant. The flood has ended. The bombs have long gone off. The fashioning of such a story set after rather than before revises the older apocalyptic plot. The post-apocalyptic mode is not typically concerned with the thrilling how of survival. Instead, it focuses on what new world may be built in the ashes of the old. In this way, post-apocalyptic novels offer a slightly less subtle estrangement effect than many science fiction novels do. These are not alien worlds; they are cognitively reduced versions of our own. The thinning out of the world that appears in post-apocalyptic texts offers a chilling lesson for thinking totality without something like diversity, for thinking totality without imagining what does not appear, for thinking totality without considering the overdeterminations of class. It is this connection between the real world we know and the fictional version of it that gets destroyed in these novels about which I would like to make a few brief remarks today.