Trysts Tropiques: The Torrid Jungles of Science Fiction




fiction, gender, jungle, literature, methodology, tropical


In science fiction magazines of the first half of the twentieth century, tropical environments are chaotic domains where civilised restrictions do not apply. Visitors who cross the boundary between civilisation and jungle exhibit carnal desires and violent behaviours in response to the opportunities and threats they encounter. Mysterious cities and settlements hidden in the jungle and inhabited by supernatural beings are a common feature of science fiction of  this period. The tropics are ‘torrid’ in both a human, emotional sense, as well as in the sense of Aristotle’s definition of a geographical area that is virtually uninhabitable due to the hostility of the climate (Physics, 362a33-362b29). However, by the end of  the century, the tropical jungle had been transformed in science fiction into something positive and less fearsome; a rich ecological reserve, endangered, and in need of preservation. Tropical science fiction narratives reflect a changing public understanding of the tropics, and illustrate the value of science fiction as a record of the history of changes in social and cultural values.

Author Biography

Christopher B. Menadue, The Cairns Institute and James Cook University

A member of The Cairns Institute, he is studying for a PhD with the College of Arts, Society and Education on the relationship between speculative fiction and social, cultural and scientific values.  He investigates what popular, rapidly produced fiction, characterized by a freedom of content and expression, can tell us about the culture and interests of its time, and also uses surveys to discover how people today experience the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction and fantasy magazines exhibit a rapid turnover between creation of copy and consumption of it by the public, and content follows and complements changes in the world-view more rapidly than is the case with literature that has a longer lead-time before publication.  He uses computational methods in his research to reduce the effect of selection bias on determining primary sources to analyse for specific themes, and this may increase the reliability of research findings in this field.


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How to Cite

Menadue, C. B. (2017). Trysts Tropiques: The Torrid Jungles of Science Fiction. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 16(1).