Cities in Flight: A Descriptive Examination of the Tropical City Imagined in Twentieth Century Science Fiction Cover Art

Christopher Benjamin Menadue

Abstract


A search for imaginary cities and city-like objects portrayed in twentieth century science fiction magazine cover art employed digital tools and followed a PRISMA methodology for systematic analysis. The findings include a correlation between indigenous peoples being portrayed as possessing less advanced technology than human visitors or human city builders in the tropics. Human cultural tropes are identified in the depiction of indigenous peoples, and trends over time in the increasing sophistication of portrayals, and a decline in gratuitously sexual artwork are visible, which supports findings of other work on changing cultural perceptions of the tropics found in science fiction. Notable themes were the tropics as a place of conflict, simplistic depictions of women, the difference between the portrayal of jungle and desert environments and the colonial mythology perpetuated in cover art over this period. Science fiction cities of the tropics were often still or devoid of life, rather than vibrant, active places. An intriguing finding was that building a filtering model for tropical environments in a science fiction setting leads naturally to a consideration of how the concept of the tropics is based on arbitrary, Earthly, cartographic conventions, which do not exist on other worlds. This difference highlights the value-laden meaning of tropical environments and societies applied by the ‘alien,’ whether European colonist or visiting Earthling, and that the inhabitants of the tropics are not bound by these conventions.


Keywords


Digital Humanities; Magazine Art, Science Fiction; Tropical Cities; imaginary cities; colonial mythology

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ashley, M. (2006). The age of the storytellers: British popular fiction magazines, 1880-1950. S.l.: British Library.

Barbour, C. (2015). When Captain America Was an Indian: Heroic Masculinity, National Identity, and Appropriation. The Journal of Popular Culture, 48(2), 269-284. doi:10.1111/jpcu.12256

Barthel, K. U. (2007). ImageSorter (Version 2.02). Berlin: Zentrum fur Mensch-Maschine-Kommunikation.

Blish, J. (1971). Cities in Flight. NY: Avon.

Byrd, J. A. (2007). "Living My Native Life Deadly": Red Lake, Ward Churchill, and the Discourses of Competing Genocides. American Indian Quarterly, 31(2), 310-332. doi:10.1353/aiq.2007.0018

Cartier-Bresson, H. (2015). The Decisive Moment. Gottingen, Germany: Steidl.

Cheng, J. (2012). Astounding wonder: Imagining science and science fiction in interwar America. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Clement, T. (2013). Text analysis, data mining, and visualizations in literary scholarship. MLA Commons. doi:10.1632/lsda.2013.8

Conor, L. (2006). This striking ornament of nature: The ‘native belle’ in the Australian colonial scene. Feminist Theory, 7(2), 197-218. doi:10.1177/1464700106064420

Flanders, J. (2013). The literary, the humanistic, the digital: Toward a research agenda for digital literary studies. MLA Commons, 10. doi:10.1632/lsda.2013.9

Gibson, W. (1984). Neuromancer. NY: Ace.

Horseman, R. (1986). Race and manifest destiny. Cambridge MA: Harvard UP.

Karinthy, F. (2011). Chain-links The Structure and Dynamics of Networks (pp. 21-26). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Liberati, A., Altman, D. G., Tetzlaff J., Mulrow C., Gøtzsche P. C., Ioannidis J. P. A., et al. (2009). The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med, 6(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000100

Lundberg, A. (2018). Editorial: Living cities: Tropical imaginaries. eTropic, 17(1), 1-5. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.25120/etropic.17.1.2018.3638

Mason, P. (1998). Infelicities: Representations of the exotic. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP.

Menadue, C. B. (2017). Trysts tropiques: the torrid jungles of science fiction. eTropic, 16(1), 125-140. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.25120/etropic.16.1.2017.3570

Menadue, C. B. (2018a). Hubbard bubble, dianetics trouble: An evaluation of the representations of dianetics and scientology in science fiction magazines from 1949 to 1999. [In Press].

Menadue, C. B. (2018b). @rts of D@rlcne55: A Pilgrim’s Progress Towards a Humane Digital Methodology. [In Review].

Menadue, C. B., & Cheer, K. D. (2017). Human culture and science fiction: a review of the literature, 1980-2016. SAGE Open, 7(3), 2158244017723690. doi:10.1177/2158244017723690

Menadue, C. B., Giselsson, K., & Guez, D. (2018). An empirical revision of the definition of science fiction: it’s all in the techne. [In Review].

Menadue, C. B., & Jacups, S. (2018). Who reads science fiction and fantasy, and how do they feel about science? Preliminary findings from an online survey. SAGE Open, 8(2), 2158244018780946. doi:10.1177/2158244018780946

Miller, S. T., Contento, W. G., & Stephensen-Payne, P. (2017, 30th October 2017). The science fiction, fantasy, & weird fiction magazine index. Retrieved from http://www.philsp.com/homeville/sfi/0start.htm

Naval Technology. (2018). Nimitz class aircraft carrier. Retrieved from https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/nimitz/

Neville, R. (1971). The WH Smith story. OZ(36), 52.

Pearson, K. (1905). The problem of the random walk. Nature, 72(1865), 294-294. doi:10.1038/072294b0

Rajaniemi, H. (2010). The Quantum Thief. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.

Rosaldo, R. (1989). Culture and truth: the remaking of social analysis. Boston: Beacon Press.

Silverberg, R. (1962). The Seed of Earth. NY: Ace.

Slotkin, R. (1973). Regeneration through violence: The mythology of the American frontier 1600-1860. Norman: U of Oklahoma P.

Stevens, A., Shamseer, L., Weinstein, E., Yazdi, F., Turner, L., Thielman, J., . . . Moher, D. (2014). Relation of completeness of reporting of health research to journals’ endorsement of reporting guidelines: systematic review. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 348.

Trumpener, K. (2009). Critical response. I. paratext and genre system: a response to Franco Moretti. Critical Inquiry, 36(1), 159-171. doi:10.1086/606126

Vinge, V. (1992). A fire upon the deep. NY: Tor.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.17.2.2018.3658

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2018 eTropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics