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Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Television
 1476690898, 9781476690896

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction
1. Theorizing Neo-Frontier Spaces: Science Fiction, Space(s), and Frontiers
2. Frontiers of Futures Past: Outer Space and the Origins of Neo-Frontier Spaces in Star Trek and Firefly
3. Moving Beyond: Rethinking Binaries, Borders, and the Planet in Terra Nova
4. Spaces in Flux: Re-Living the Present and Coming to Terms with the (Mythical) Past in Defiance
5. On the Brink: Making New Spaces and Collapsing Boundaries in The 100
Conclusion: Neo-Frontier Spaces and American Culture in the Twenty-First Century
Videography
Chapter Notes
Works Cited
Index

Citation preview

­ eo-Frontier Spaces N in Science Fiction Television

­ eo-Frontier Spaces N in Science Fiction Television Sebastian J. Müller

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers Jefferson, North Carolina

This book has undergone peer review.

Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

Names: Müller, Sebastian J., 1990– author. Title: Neo-frontier spaces in science fiction television / Sebastian J. Müller. Description: Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2023 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2023010477 | ISBN 9781476690896 (paperback : acid free paper) ISBN 9781476649573 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Science fiction television programs—United States—History and criticism. | Boundaries on television. Classification: LCC PN1992.8.S35 M85 2023 | DDC 791.45/615—dc23/eng/20230313 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023010477



British Library cataloguing data are available

ISBN (print) 978-1-4766-9089-6 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4766-4957-3 © 2023 Sebastian J. Müller. All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Front cover: Planet Earth from the moon surface. Elements of this image are furnished by NASA (Shutterstock/buradaki) Printed in the United States of America

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640 www.mcfarlandpub.com

Table of Contents Acknowledgments vii Preface  1 Introduction3 Groundings and Points of Departure: The Frontier, the SF Frontier, and ­Neo-Frontier Spaces5 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces and the Medium of Television7 The Structure of This Study9 1.  Theorizing ­Neo-Frontier Spaces: Science Fiction, Space(s), and Frontiers 13 Science Fiction and the ­Post-Apocalyptic as Modes of Thinking13 ­Re-Thinking the Construction of Space(s)18 From Frontiers to ­Neo-Frontier Spaces22 2.  Frontiers of Futures Past: Outer Space and the Origins of ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Star Trek and Firefly30 Reading the Frontier in Star Trek 31 Pushing the “Final Frontier”: Exploring Heterogeneous Spaces in Star Trek 33 Reading the Frontier in Firefly51 ­Re-Envisioning the Universe: Connecting Spaces and Fragmenting Places in Firefly54 3.  Moving Beyond: Rethinking Binaries, Borders, and the Planet in Terra Nova82 From the Settler Colony to Transgressive ­Neo-Frontier “Thirdspace(s)”82 v

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Table of Contents

From the Wilderness/Civilization Binary to Places of ­Co-Presence and Interdependence97 ­Neo-Frontier Climate Change Riskscapes and Capitalist ­ World-Making110 Utopian/Dystopian Patchwork Spaces and Utopia/ Dystopia as Temporal Stages121 4.  Spaces in Flux: ­Re-Living the Present and Coming to Terms with the (Mythical) Past in Defiance136 The Frontier City of Defiance and the “Interwoven Threads” of Urban Spaces137 From Spaces of Colonial Belonging to Spaces of Ecosystemic Belonging151 ­Post-Apocalyptic Terraforming Riskscapes and Technological ­World-Making159 Fragmented Cityscapes and the Problems of American Dreaming168 5.  On the Brink: Making New Spaces and Collapsing Boundaries in The 100178 The Ark and the Settler Camp as Spaces of Permanence and Temporariness179 From Human/ ­Non-Human Spaces to Technological Ecosystems and a ­Neo-Frontier “Ground”193 Human/ ­Non-Human Riskscapes of Uncertainty and Risky ­World-Making205 Utopia/Dystopia as Political Choices and the Pitfalls of Social Dreaming216 Conclusion: ­Neo-Frontier Spaces and American Culture in the ­Twenty-First Century 225 Videography231 Chapter Notes 235 Works Cited 245 Index261

Acknowledgments Writing a book is like journeying on a road. In the beginning, the road is still engulfed in fog. You have a general idea of where you are headed but you do not know what lies ahead or where you will end up. In time, the fog clears and you can see the road more clearly. However, you have new challenges to face—obstacles lie in your way (finding your place in the research field, juggling theoretical approaches and concepts, expressing your ideas in a way that others can understand, making your argument convincing, seemingly endless phases of writing and rewriting) and you come to crossroads, unsure about which direction to take. But, fortunately, you do not have to travel this road alone: There are people who help you navigate past obstacles and find your way. They support you, criticize you, motivate you, inspire you, and assist you during your journey. I began my journey to my PhD and hence this work in 2016. I would like to express my thanks to my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Jeanne Cortiel (Universität Bayreuth), for her constructive feedback, her continuing support, and especially for inciting me to embark on my PhD journey in the first place. I am also deeply indebted to my second supervisor, Prof. Dr. Sylvia Mayer (Universität Bayreuth), for her advice on the section which focuses on the representation of climate change riskscapes. A special acknowledgment goes to my PhD colleagues in Bayreuth and Bamberg—Lu Gan, Laura Oehme, Lukas Büttcher, Marian ­O fori-Amoafo, Judith Rauscher, Mareike Spychala, and Theresa Heublein. I would like to thank them for providing valuable feedback on how to revise this project. I am also grateful to several wonderful scholars who have assisted me in navigating the theoretical landscape of this book, especially Şemsettin Tabur (Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University) for his insights in a huge variety of theories of space and Kristina Baudemann (­Europa-Universität Flensburg) for our very inspiring discussions about science fiction as a genre and questions of Othering. I would also like to seize the opportunity to thank my family for their continuing emotional support throughout the last six years. vii

viii Acknowledgments Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to several people who have helped me make this book a reality. Turning a dissertation into a book is an enormous but also a very rewarding endeavor. I would like to thank Layla Milholen at McFarland for being there every step of the way, assisting me in reworking my dissertation for a broader, general readership and for answering all of my big and small questions—I know there were quite a lot of them. This book also couldn’t have been realized without the two readers who took the time and put forth the effort to provide me with extensive feedback and excellent suggestions for revising this book in their reader reports.

Preface This project was born when I was watching the ­p ost-apocalyptic television series Terra Nova. What piqued my interest was a scene in which a group of teenagers was secretly slipping out of a fortified colony in order to have fun in the jungle. This easy crossing of the border started me thinking about how the series represented spaces in a way that was very much different from other shows that relied on frontier spaces. This inspired me to look for other television series that engaged with frontier spaces in a novel way that is shaped by current concerns, such as climate change and the ubiquity of global risks that influence both popular culture and our very own lives. During my research I identified a number of other series—Defiance and The 100 in particular, but also earlier shows such as Star Trek and Firefly that created frontier spaces in ways that differed from other television series in terms of how they represented colonial spaces, the environment, spaces of risk and utopian/dystopian spaces. During my review of existing academic literature I found that my interest in the current representation of frontier spaces was shared by scholars such as Carl Abbott and William H. Katerberg. Yet, their studies—as well as those of others—almost exclusively examined works of literature and only marginally addressed television (if at all). I recognized that while literature was well explored, an ­i n-depth study of frontier spaces in television series was sorely lacking. Even more important, this tight focus missed out on something new—how television series create ­n eo-frontier spaces that are very much the product of (popular) culture in the ­t wenty-first century. Therefore, this book is as much about making academic space for reading spaces in television—which is why it does not address literature—as much as it is about exploring the representation of ­neo-frontier spaces in television series.

1

Introduction Although Fredrick Jackson Turner declared the frontier to be gone in 1893 (227), as a mythical construct, it still shapes contemporary American popular culture, particularly texts which have been associated with the genre of science fiction (SF)1 (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future vii; Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 3–5; Katerberg 1–7; Rieder, “American Frontiers” 177). Recent scholarship has examined the frontier myth and frontier spaces in the form of the ­so-called “SF frontier” in monographs such as Carl Abbott’s Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West (2006) and Imagined Frontiers: Contemporary America and Beyond (2015), William H. Katerberg’s Future West: Utopia and Apocalypse in Frontier Science Fiction (2008), and Matthew Wilhelm Kapell’s Exploring the Next Frontier: Vietnam, NASA, Star Trek and Utopia in the 1960s and 1970s (2016). Their authors are either interested in approaching the frontier myth and the SF frontier from a revisionist historical perspective (following New Western History) with a focus on regional localities (Abbott, Katerberg) and/or discuss transformations of the frontier myth in the context of genres such as science fiction/speculative fiction, utopia, and apocalypse (Kapell, Katerberg). However, recent science fictional texts, especially on television, do not merely create new forms of SF frontier spaces which revise mythical narratives due to changing historical contexts and genres. Contemporary ­neo-colonial television series such as Terra Nova (2011), Defiance (2013–2015), and The 100 (2014–2020) and predecessors like Star Trek (1966–1969) and Firefly (2002–2003) utilize speculation in order to construct what I call ­neo-frontier spaces.2 I do not mean to recuperate the problematic concept of the frontier which has been widely criticized in historiographical scholarship and American Studies. In contrast to previous uses of the term “­neo-frontier,” my use of the term “­neo-frontier spaces” draws attention to how these series open up new ways of thinking about how (frontier) spaces are constructed in U.S. popular culture in the ­t wenty-first century3: Contemporary definitions of the (SF) 3

4 Introduction frontier as a contact zone (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167; Pratt 4; Limerick 27) and a point of convergence and exchange (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 3) provide a useful point of departure. These approaches no longer conceptualize the frontier as a colonial borderline but follow revisionist postcolonial/settler colonial/New Western History research by defining the SF frontier as a site that brings together different people, ideas, and types of spaces (e.g., colonial, environmental, utopian/dystopian) and that is shaped by a constant negotiation between these elements. ­Neo-frontier spaces similarly bring together old mythical ways of representing frontier spaces in fiction with new ways of speculative thinking. On the one hand, ­neo-frontier spaces draw on the frontier myth and the SF frontier in how they construct spaces in contemporary television. On the other hand, contemporary television series crucially depart from the SF frontier as they create ­neo-frontier spaces through extrapolation and ­post-apocalyptic imagination. ­Neo-frontier spaces rethink frontier spaces and critically reflect on how spaces are constructed in the ­t wenty-first century across four interconnected and interrelated types of spaces: colonial spaces, environmental spaces, spaces of risk (riskscapes), and utopian/dystopian spaces. These four types of spaces and their theoretical frameworks (postcolonial/settler colonial studies, ecocriticism, risk studies, and utopian studies) prove especially valuable for reading Star Trek, Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100. First, a focus on these four perspectives acknowledges traditional contexts of reading the SF frontier in cultural studies (colonialism, the environment, risk, and utopia/dystopia). Second, all four fields are concerned with processes of ­space-making and the construction of (local and global) spaces in the ­t wenty-first century which makes them highly relevant for reading ­neo-frontier spaces in contemporary television. The focus on colonial spaces examines the importance of postcolonial and settler colonial relations. It investigates how these series engage with traditional colonial binaries such as Self/Other, inside/outside, and mobility/fixity. At the same time, this approach highlights how the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces breaks with these binaries, the SF frontier, and the frontier myth. It elucidates how these series rethink colonial spaces as dynamic, heterogeneous and relational constructs. The focus on environmental spaces allows for studying how these series work with and against binaries such as wilderness/civilization, human/­ non-human, and city/nature. Ecocriticism’s attention to interactions and interrelations between the human and the ­non-human in making spaces in the ­t wenty-first century informs my analysis of ­neo-frontier spaces: These series employ new environmental ways of thinking about



Introduction5

living on Earth which depart from the SF frontier. The focus on risk and riskscapes becomes especially important as the construction of neo-frontier spaces is tied to risk scenarios of global catastrophe and/ or crisis—an extrapolated climate change crisis in Terra Nova; war and terraforming in Defiance; and a nuclear winter in The 100. An attention to the spatiality and temporality of risk allows for examining how these series construct new riskscapes and how they employ risk in order to critique contemporary modes of ­space-making in what sociologist Ulrich Beck calls the “world risk society” (Beck, World at Risk 9, italics in original). Moreover, this theoretical focus also makes it possible to study how frontier spaces in these series are constructed in the context of (global) communal risks and not just via individual ­r isk-taking (as the frontier myth would have it). The last theoretical focus on utopia/dystopia examines the role of “social dreaming” (Sargent 3) and the formation of communities for the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces. This becomes important for analyzing how ­neo-frontier spaces engage critically with traditional forms of frontier utopias and frontier utopianism. It also allows for examining how these series reshape the very notions of utopia, dystopia, and ­a nti-utopia in terms of their spatiality, temporality, and narrative forms. By combining postcolonial/settler colonial studies, ecocriticism, risk studies, and utopian/dystopian studies, the analysis both acknowledges and investigates the complexity of neo-frontier spaces in contemporary SF television.

Groundings and Points of Departure: The Frontier, the SF Frontier, and ­Neo-Frontier Spaces The construction of ­neo-frontier spaces in contemporary television still draws on the frontier, especially its transformations in SF and popular culture. The frontier has been articulated most famously by Midwestern historian Frederick Jackson Turner. In 1893, Turner gave a speech on “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (Lehan xi). He codified the frontier—a cultural concept which had been entrenched in American culture and history ever since the beginnings of the European colonization of the North American continent in the early seventeenth century (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence, esp. 16–24).4 Turner defined the frontier as a geographical borderline moving further and further west until it had reached the Pacific in 1890 (Turner 199). For him, the

6 Introduction frontier constituted “the outer edge of the wave—the meeting point between savagery and civilization” (Turner 199). From this articulation onward the frontier developed into a myth. Myths draw on historical experiences of a people and bring them together with systems of belief (ideologies) that are held by these people (Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 5–6). They work by a recourse to universalizing narratives which explain both the past of these people but also define their ­s elf-understanding in the present (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 6–7; Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 26). Turner’s narrative claimed that the appropriation of space defined American identity as a democratic whole on an individual and national level (Turner 216; Altenbernd and Young 130; Lehan 7). In time, the frontier turned into “the [mythical] ‘ur’ American narrative, the core story” (Lehan xii) of American historical development. This frontier myth was adopted by and constantly reiterated in U.S. culture: It became entrenched in the literary and audiovisual Western (Le Menager 517–533; Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 25, 628–633) and SF (Wolfe “Frontiers in Space” 248; Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 2; Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167). The frontier myth has retained its influence on U.S. popular culture until today. SF texts across media adapted the frontier myth to an imagined future in which the American West gave way to the universe (Wolfe, “Frontiers in Space” 248). John Rieder acknowledges this “translation” and identifies a “SF frontier” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167) in fiction: Much American SF reconstructs the nation’s mythic pioneering past as a science fictional future, transferring both the symbolic and ideological values of the American frontier and the tropes of the American Western to outer space. A second version of the SF frontier, just as entangled with ideologies of progress and destiny as the first, is the vanguard constituted by technological innovation rather than geographical exploration and territorial expansion. Both of these versions of the frontier participate in the ideology of American exceptionalism, the representation of American political, military, and economic power as free from the corrupting burdens of history that turn it into domination and oppression elsewhere. A third version of the frontier envisions it not as an empty place waiting to be penetrated and settled by intrepid pioneers but as a meeting place between cultures or civilizations, a borderland or contact zone where there are always two sides to any story, and where exploring the radical differences between those two sides often becomes the heart of the adventure [167].

Rieder, here, establishes subcategories by juxtaposing three types of the SF frontier (pioneering frontier, technological frontier, contact zone frontier). The classificatory nature of his approach is of little interest to my analysis. His account still provides a useful point of departure.



Introduction7

Rieder identifies several transformative elements in terms of the spatiality of the frontier in SF: a relocation of the mythical West and its ideologies to outer space; a focus on ­progress-oriented technological innovation;5 and the reconceptualization of the frontier as what postcolonial scholar ­Marie-Louise Pratt calls “contact zones,” i.e., meeting places in which different cultures encounter and struggle against each other (Pratt 4). Carl Abbott adds to this by pointing out that the SF frontier constructs “places and zones of convergence where people, products, and ideas can be exchanged and intermingled” (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 3). Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 all participate in and depart from the SF frontier. They continue a fascination with technological futures and pasts and presenting contact zones but relocate neofrontier spaces to Earth. Therefore, they present a countercurrent to the SF frontier in outer space which has been a dominant feature of SF television since its very beginnings, including Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1949–1955), Star Trek (1966–1969), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979–1981), Babylon 5 (1994–1998), Andromeda (2000– 2005), Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009), and Stargate Universe (2009– 2011) among others. In contrast to these space operas which focus on the traveling through outer space (Pringle 36, Sawyer 505), Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 construct new spaces on ­post-apocalyptic future and past Earths. This allows them to use speculation to interrogate how people construct and engage with a variety of (terrestrial) spaces in the twenty-first century.

­ eo-Frontier Spaces N and the Medium of Television Television provides an apt medium for the construction of neofrontier spaces. It consists of “carefully designed composites of iconic images” (3) which developed in the course of television becoming televisual in the 1980s ( ­Johnson-Smith 60).6 “[T]elevisuality developed a system/genre of alternative worlds that tolerated and expected both visual flourishes—special effects, graphics, acute cinematography and editing—and narrative embellishment—time travel, diegetic masquerades, and out of body experiences” (Caldwell 261). This shift toward style in the television industry legitimized more stylistically and technologically sophisticated representations of alternative spaces ( ­Johnson-Smith 66). In contrast to the early SF “cinema of attractions” (Geraghty, American Science Fiction Film and Television 7), which relied on “camera trickery, fantasy and spectacle” (7) to showcase the visual possibilities

8 Introduction of the new medium of film, contemporary television utilizes televisual spectacle not merely for drawing viewer attention in terms of an “enraptured gaze” (Wheatley 1). Instead, (SF) television uses the televisual “to provide a location for interrogation and analysis” (­Johnson-Smith 6–7), particularly of spaces.7 Contemporary SF television “asks us to recognize elements of our world, even as it renders them unsettlingly unfamiliar, strange, or spectacular—thereby producing a rather compelling paradox of the like and yet unlike” (Telotte 83, italics in original). It is this bringing together of the real and the fictional, of familiar and alien elements that allows for the television series examined in this study to challenge conventional ways of thinking about space. Instead of merely representing existing spaces, these series open frontier spaces up for critical rethinking. Moreover, they do not convey a singular view of these spaces. As television programs are marked by polysemy—offering viewers multiple meanings from which to draw their own conclusions (Butler, Television 10)—­neo-frontier spaces remain open for various, conflicting, but also overlapping interpretations and readings. Furthermore, contemporary television is often marked by what Jason Mittell calls “narrative complexity” (12). Narrative complexity depends on the construction of “a sustained narrative world, populated by a consistent set of characters who experience a chain of events over time” (10, italics mine). Complex television series build “accumulative sequential storyworlds” (12), a claim that can be usefully tied to geographer Doreen Massey’s proposition that space is not fixed but ongoing and changing in time (Massey 11). ­Neo-frontier spaces construct future or past Earth(s) as “accumulative sequential storyworlds” which are not static but in process: They are changing throughout the course of the series. This constitutes a significant departure from the narrative ­planet-of-the-week patterns often associated with SF frontier fiction on television. Terra Nova, Defiance, The 100, and predecessors such as Star Trek and Firefly take center stage as they bring together colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces. Other series such as Dark Angel, Revolution, Jericho, The Shannara Chronicles, Incorporated, The Handmaid’s Tale, Falling Skies, Invasion, V, Colony, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Z Nation, and The Strain also negotiate environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces. What makes the series selected for this study unique is their explicit construction of ­neo-colonial spaces—a settler colony in Terra Nova, a frontier city in Defiance, and a space colony and settler camp in The 100. It is this construction of new forms of colonial spaces in conjunction with environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian



Introduction9

spaces which allows these series to critically engage with the SF frontier and the frontier myth and to simultaneously interrogate cultural ways of ­space-making in the ­t wenty-first century.

The Structure of This Study Chapter 1 presents the theoretical foundations for this study. It focuses on science fiction and the ­post-apocalyptic imagination, space, and the (SF) frontier. I approach science fiction and the ­post-apocalyptic as ways of thinking rather than as genres: Both become useful for studying how contemporary SF television constructs ­n eo-frontier spaces through cognitive estrangement, extrapolation, and a negotia­ tion between the old and the new. This study reads space as a relational, open, and heterogeneous construct. It relies on theories of space across various disciplines (geography, geocriticism, historiography, and sociology), drawing on Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, Doreen Massey, and Bertrand Westphal. My approach brings together the dimensions of the perceived, conceived, and lived (Lefebvre, Soja) with theorizations of space as an interrelational and processual construct (Massey) and as transgressive (Westphal). The role of representation becomes central here—in terms of how the medium of television constructs spaces and of the relationship between fictional world and real world. It also charts approaches to the frontier in U.S. Western historiography and to the SF frontier in cultural studies which serve as points of departure for the analysis. I situate this study as a contribution to debates in SF scholarship as it follows up on recent research that draws renewed attention to questions of space, place, geography, and utopia (Abbott, Katerberg). Chapter 2 moves from theory into analysis. I locate elements of neo-frontier ways of thinking in SF television series of the twentieth and early ­t wenty-first century by examining Star Trek (1966–1969) and Firefly (2002–2003) under the premise that these series both draw on the SF frontier myth but also reshape frontier spaces. The representation of colonial spaces, environmental spaces, spaces of risk, and utopian/dystopian spaces in both series enables moments of critique of the SF frontier myth and—to some extent—presents frontier spaces as relational, heterogeneous constructs in a manner that anticipates Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100. Chapters 3–5 examine the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces in Terra Nova, Defiance and The 100 from the theoretical angles of postcolonial studies/settler colonial studies, ecocriticism, risk studies, and utopian/dystopian studies. In order to establish an appropriate frame of

10 Introduction comparison, this study focuses on the first season of each series in order to analyze both similarities and differences in all three series. Chapter 3 focuses on Terra Nova. The analysis identifies a central strategy that Defiance and The 100 also make use of—a clash between imagined and lived spaces. This allows for the series to both draw on the frontier myth and conventions of the SF frontier and to simultaneously challenge and reshape frontier spaces. On the one hand, the representation of Terra Nova colony draws on imagined colonial binaries. On the other hand, the series breaks with these binaries through emphasizing transgressivity and juxtaposing different ways of perceiving and living in space. Similarly, the series also works with the mythical wilderness/civilization dualism but its representation of lived spaces reshapes traditional relationships between the human and ­non-human: It presents places as the joint product of both the human and animals and substitutes sustainability relations for colonial forms of dominating nature. Terra Nova introduces new ways of thinking about frontier spaces through how it engages with risks: The series employs a crisis scenario that extrapolates from current climate change risks (air pollution, overpopulation, the slumification of cities). This allows for the series to interrogate the historical role of capitalism for the construction of frontier spaces and to critique capitalism as a system of thought and a spatial practice in the ­t wenty-first century. Terra Nova’s representation of utopian/dystopian spaces sets up a distinction not unlike the traditional frontier utopia/dystopia. At the same time, the lived spaces in the series reshape utopia and dystopia as inextricable on a spatial and temporal level. Ultimately, the series reflects critically on the interplay between utopianism, the frontier myth, and the construction of lived spaces. Chapter 4 moves on to Defiance. Defiance differs from Terra Nova as it employs a ­post-apocalyptic catastrophe scenario (the aftermath of a war). The series draws on the (SF) frontier myth in its representation of colonial spaces but also reshapes frontier spaces through critically engaging with U.S. settler history and through representing urban spaces as a heterogenous formation in which peoples, cultures, and various spaces are interconnected and interwoven with each other. Environmental frontier binaries such as wilderness/civilization and city/wasteland underlie the imagined spaces of the series. The representation of lived spaces, however, renegotiates relationships between the human and the ­non-human by replacing colonial relations with relations of sustainability and interdependence. The series reshapes frontier spaces through engaging with global risks by imagining a ­post-apocalyptic terraformed world. The series stages risk as a presentist rather than ­f uture-oriented structure of the narrative world and blurs different types of risks in unpredictable ways. This



Introduction11

enables the series to critique processes of altering Earth through technologies in the ­t wenty-first century. A similar critical dimension underpins the construction of utopian/dystopian spaces in Defiance. While the series takes recourse to the frontier utopia, it interrogates the interplay between colonialism and utopianism by problematizing a clash between frontier individualism and social dreaming. Chapter 5 closes the analysis by examining The 100. The 100 also envisions a ­post-apocalyptic catastrophe scenario (a nuclear winter on Earth). The series takes recourse to frontier mythical elements in its construction of a space colony and a settler camp on Earth. Nevertheless, it also works with a clash between imagined spaces and lived spaces and reshapes settler spaces as simultaneously permanent and temporary sites of inhabitation. The construction of the space station and of Earth engages with the wilderness/civilization binary but The 100 collapses distinctions between the human and the ­non-human by drawing on Transcendentalist thinking, ­re-employing modes of perception and establishing a “technological ecosystem” which brings together humanmade technological systems with ­non-human ecological principles of organization. The 100 breaks with traditional forms of conceptualizing risk(s) and risk management in SF frontier fiction and rethinks their role in the ­t wenty-first century: It presents risk not as an external threat to the human but as the result of unpredictable interactions and interconnections between the human and the technological. The series also reevaluates utopia and dystopia: While the series draws on the SF frontier utopia/frontier dystopia, it presents utopia and dystopia as political and social choices in the ­place-making process rather than spaces of their own. The series interrogates discrepancies between social dreaming (utopianism), (bio)political governance, and frontier individualism and critiques social dreaming as a productive method of ­place-making in SF frontier fiction and the ­real-world present. The conclusion delineates the ­i n-between space occupied by neofrontier spaces in contemporary SF television: ­Neo-frontier spaces draw on the SF frontier and the frontier myth while simultaneously rethinking colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/ dystopian spaces. ­Neo-frontier spaces do not constitute a new genre or subgenre of SF. Instead, they constitute both a new way of thinking about the construction of (frontier) spaces in U.S. popular culture and also productively critique cultural processes of ­space-making in the twenty-first century. As such, a ­neo-frontier approach provides a useful framework for reading other recent television series, especially those that construct ­post-apocalyptic worlds as the result of a global catastrophe or crisis.

1 Theorizing ­Neo-Frontier Spaces Science Fiction, Space(s), and Frontiers ­Neo-frontier spaces const­itute a new way of thinking about spaces in contemporary SF television. The analysis brings together three theoretical frameworks—science fiction and the ­post-apocalyptic imagination; contemporary theories of space, and the (SF) frontier. I approach science fiction and the ­post-apocalyptic as ways of thinking that work through cognitive estrangement, extrapolation, and a negotiation between the old and the new. Similarly, I follow recent theories of space in geography, geocriticism, historiography, and sociology by Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, Doreen Massey, and Bertrand Westphal that rethink space in terms of a relational, changeable, open, and heterogeneous construct. The analysis also draws on recent revisions of the concept of the frontier in American historiographical research and in SF studies: Both fields work with the premise that the SF frontier is not a borderline but a complex site of contact, interactions, multiplicity, and exchange: This provides a useful foundation for examining ­neo-frontier spaces in contemporary SF television. By bringing together these diverse ways of theoretical thinking, this study introduces new routes of analysis while also situating itself in the fields of SF studies and television studies.

Science Fiction and the ­Post-Apocalyptic as Modes of Thinking I conceptualize science fiction as a mode of thinking rather than as a genre that is characterized by certain elements. This vantage point becomes productive for analyzing the construction of (neo-)frontier spaces in Star Trek, Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 as it focuses on speculative processes—the work that SF does rather than what SF is. 13

14 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Throughout the twentieth century, scholars worked toward defining SF as a genre with clear borders. SF was constructed as a “more or less fixed genre, whether defined discursively (in terms of narratological features), theoretically (in terms of epistemological structures), or institutionally (in terms of publishing categories)” (Latham 1).1 In accordance with this formalist vantage point, scholars mostly read space as a backdrop to narratives in SF—as a means to set up narratives or as a metaphor (Wolfe, The Known and the Unknown 34), as a reactionary response to Enlightenment thought and ­n ineteenth-century developments in science, processes of industrialization, urbanization, and the crisis of religion (Rose 52), and as a feature that served to characterize alien-encounter-narratives and classic utopian narratives (Malmgren 17–20). All of these readings relegated space to a fixed, relatively passive element which did not merit attention as a generative force of its own. More recent studies have shifted their approach by reconsidering genre in useful ways. Drawing on Rick Altman, John Rieder posits that genres are in a constant historical process of transformation (“On Defining SF, or Not: Genre Theory, SF, and History,” 191). Rieder considers SF as an ­ever-changing field which has “no essence, no single unifying characteristic, and no point of origin” (193). For him—and other scholars—SF is articulated by how texts relate to each other, how texts draw on and negotiate different genres, and by complex practices of production, distribution, marketing and reception (Rieder 193; Bould and Vint 3). This approach contemplates SF as a complex field, a constantly changing network of texts, genres, and labeling practices by different actors. Sherryl Vint emphasizes that SF is rather “a cultural mode that struggles with the implications of discoveries in science and technology for human social lives and philosophical conceptions” (4, italics mine). It is “a way of thinking about and experiencing the world that is itself slightly askew and not merely a particular configuration of settings, plot, and images” (6, italics mine). SF also constitutes a method (Hollinger 140); “a way of thinking and speaking about contemporary reality so that SF becomes integrated with other discourses about contemporary ­late-capitalist, global technoculture” (140). Understanding SF as a way of thinking that comments on ways of perceiving, conceiving, and living in the world, opens up its potential to challenge and rethink contemporary conceptions of space, which becomes central for neo-frontier spaces in contemporary U.S. television. SF as a way of thinking works through various practices of speculation. The concept of speculation can be traced back to the Sanskrit verb spàs which means “to see” or “observe” (Uncertain Commons ch.1). In modern times, the concept took on two semantic registers: the cognitive



1. Theorizing N ­ eo-Frontier Spaces15

and the economic (Uncertain Commons ch.1). Speculation, in the economic sense, became tied to processes of financial ­r isk-taking, i.e., investing money based on predictions of a future rise and fall of market values in the hope of making profits and the simultaneous risk of losing that investment (Landon 25; Uncertain Commons ch. 1). Speculation, in the cognitive sense, refers to processes of anticipative (and creative) thinking: It designates a tendency “to contemplate, to ponder, and hence to form conjectures, to make estimations and projections, to look into the future so as to hypothesize” (Uncertain Commons ch. 1). Speculation, therefore, constitutes ways of thinking that imagine the future through projections, estimations, and hypotheses in relation to what is known in the present. This cognitive dimension becomes important here. SF as a way of thinking is concerned with “the horizons of possibility” (­Csicsery-Ronay, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction 1): It works by imagining futures which are marked by radically different conditions in comparison to the ­real-world present. This does not mean that SF is fantastical or escapist. Instead, this difference enables a critical reflection on contemporary human experiences (Malmgren 13). Speculation in SF therefore serves as a means for interrogating ­present-day human experiences. Historically, scholars have associated speculation with “social science fiction” (Asimov 30) in the 1950s, a term which feminist SF writers and scholars such as Judith Merril, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood reworked by coining the term “speculative fiction” (Landon 27–28, Thomas 7, Atwood 6). Speculative fiction refers to “stories whose objective is to explore, to discover, to learn, by means of projection, extrapolation, analogue, ­hypothesis-and-paper experimentation, something about the nature of the universe, of man, of ‘reality’” (Merril qtd. in Landon 28, italics in original). In addition to this hermeneutic and didactic function, speculative thinking in SF can also satirize the ­real-world present (Thomas 7). Ultimately, speculation does not only become a means for understanding reality but enables a productive critique: It sheds a new critical light on reality and contemporary ways of thinking while simultaneously imagining alternative possibilities. This interrogation/critique works through various speculative practices, especially through cognitive estrangement and extrapolation. Darko Suvin develops the concept of “cognitive estrangement” (Suvin 4, italics in original) in Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. Suvin claims that estrangement entails “not only a reflecting of but also on reality” (10, italics in original). This process depends on the “narrative dominance or hegemony of a fictional ‘novum’ (novelty, innovation) validated by a cognitive logic” (Suvin 63, italics in original). Although Suvin associates the novum with scientific

16 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio cognition (65–68), he emphasizes its flexibility: It can encompass new technological inventions, new kinds of characters, radically different social relations, and even the entirety of the setting (64). Suvin’s contention that the setting can serve as a novum indicates that spaces themselves can become rethought and ­re-presented in a new fashion in SF. Suvin certainly reduces space to a “setting” (i.e., a backdrop to narrative). What is important for my argument here is that the representation of spaces as “nova” creates a “distance from which reality can be seen with fresh eyes” (­Csicsery-Ronay, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction 50). The novum works through “aligning the possible world and the real world to create a third, even more tacit paradigm of parabolic, critical freedom” (52, italics mine). It is this critical freedom which allows for contemporary SF television series to radically break with established assumptions, conceptions, and perceptions of frontier spaces and to rethink these assumptions by constructing ­neo-frontier spaces. The second important practice that informs my reading is extrapolation. Extrapolation is derived from mathematics where it “denotes precision and extension from the known to the unknown” (Landon 25). In SF, extrapolation takes recourse to known science and technology of the present and extends them into the future (Landon 24, Malmgren 12).2 This way of thinking is problematic as it assumes that current knowledge can serve as a means to anticipate, predict, calculate, and to foreshadow future developments. Extrapolation does not take into account that the future is uncertain as “all the relevant information about the future is never available” (­Csiscery-Ronay, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction 3–4, italics mine). The concept still becomes useful in terms of how SF works with extrapolative scenarios. SF often draws on “what if ” scenarios which introduce a “novum” and explore its repercussions on physical, cultural, and social spaces of a speculative future (Landon 25). These extrapolative scenarios often employ a “if this goes on” pattern (Malmgren 12). They comment on problems of the present such as overpopulation, food scarcity, increasing technologization (Malmgren 12), and the catastrophic effects of climate change (Canavan, “Introduction” 4). While they do not predict the future, they identify and comment on ­real-world problems of the present through the lens of a speculative future: Extrapolative scenarios therefore hold the potential to challenge and critique established ways of thinking about the world. Such extrapolative scenarios shape the television series discussed in this study: Terra Nova imagines a dystopian future which extrapolates from the climate change crisis of the ­t wenty-first century, commenting on problems such as global overpopulation, air pollution, and the slumification of cities. Defiance works with premise of an alien invasion which



1. Theorizing N ­ eo-Frontier Spaces17

involves the aliens’ attempts to terraform Earth. This scenario implicitly extrapolates from and criticizes contemporary human attempts at reshaping Earth through technologies (terraforming, geoengineering). Finally, The 100 envisions a ­p ost-nuclear-catastrophe which extrapolates its disaster from current technological anxieties such as the looming threat of a new Cold War between the United States and Russia. While these series utilize extrapolative scenarios in order to interrogate current global realities and risks, the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces becomes a useful speculation itself: These series interrogate not only how frontier spaces are constructed in American popular culture but also how space is perceived, conceived, and lived in in the contemporary moment.

The ­Post-Apocalyptic as a Mode of Thinking The construction of ­neo-frontier spaces is shaped by the postapocalyptic. The term apocalypse is traditionally associated with a literary genre originating in the Book of Revelation in the Bible (Rosen xiii–xiv; Berger 5).3 I find it more useful to approach the ­post-apocalyptic as another form of speculation. Instead of reading ­neo-frontier spaces as parts of a genre of ­post-apocalypse, my analysis follows scholarship which emphasizes that the ­post-apocalyptic is not a narrative “end of the world” but “an end to something, a way of life or thinking” (Berger 5, italics mine). In the context of this study, the ­post-apocalyptic opens up spaces to reconceptualization as it allows for contemporary television series to challenge traditional ways of thinking about frontier spaces and to envision new ways for thinking about space(s). ­Neo-frontier spaces are inextricably tied to the central dialectic of ­p ost-apocalyptic ­world-building: ­Post-apocalyptic worlds destabilize distinctions between beginnings and endings (Rosen xxiv) and construct a space ­i n-between an old world and a new world (Berger 8, Doyle 99, Machat 75). This ­i n-between space is the result of a global catastrophe which transforms the old world into a new world while connecting them at the same time (Berger 6–7, Doyle 101). As Sybille Machat emphasizes, “a fundamental catastrophe within the existence of the relevant area [of the narrative world] must have taken place, in order for the transformative effect [of the ­post-apocalyptic] to occur” (75). In all series—except for Star Trek—the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces is dependent on catastrophes or crises—an overpopulation crisis and resource exhaustion in Firefly, a climate change crisis in Terra Nova, war and a failed terraforming project in Defiance, and a global nuclear holocaust in The 100. The “transformative effect” of the ­post-apocalyptic

18 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio that marks ­neo-frontier spaces not only lies in physically altered global and local landscapes but also in negotiating the old and the new: These series draw on (old) SF frontier mythical ways of perceiving, conceiving, and living in space while simultaneously exploring new spaces and new ways of thinking that move beyond the SF frontier (myth). Lastly, the ­p ost-apocalyptic—not unlike cognitive estrangement and extrapolation—becomes a means for social critique: an element which underpinned the apocalyptic since its very beginnings (Rosen xii). James Berger points out that the most important cultural work of the ­post-apocalyptic lies in its capacity to renew perceptions while simultaneously diagnosing roots of the speculative catastrophe in the ­real-world present (218). This becomes especially important in recent versions of the ­post-apocalyptic or “­neo-apocalyptic” (Rosen xv) which participate in postmodernist thinking: It “challenges traditional sensemaking structures, which it calls grand or ­meta-narratives” (Rosen xx) and introduces new ways of understanding the world (xxiii). This mode of critique becomes productive for reading how ­neo-frontier spaces engage with and reshape frontier spaces and the SF frontier myth. The cognitively estranged ­neo-frontier spaces in Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 critically engage with the ­meta-narrative of the SF frontier myth. Simultaneously, they rethink colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces in ways that present new ways of thinking about the construction of these types of spaces in the ­t wenty-first century.

­Re-Thinking the Construction of Space(s) Apart from science fiction and the ­post-apocalyptic, my analysis relies on the concept of space as it has been theorized in literary studies, cultural studies, philosophy, and geography. My focus lies on contemporary scholarship which approaches space as being relational, open, and heterogeneous (Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, Doreen Massey, and Bertrand Westphal). These approaches provide a useful framework for reading how contemporary SF television series construct ­neo-frontier spaces. Contemporary readings build on the “spatial turn” in academia which took place in the second half of the twentieth century. Before the spatial turn, space was relegated to a secondary position behind time and temporality (Foucault, “Of Other Spaces” 22; Soja, Postmodern Geographies 1–2; Tabur 18). Space was seen as “a surface; continuous and given” (Massey 4); i.e., it functioned as a backdrop to human actions (Tabur 18). Space remained in the background as something fixed,



1. Theorizing N ­ eo-Frontier Spaces19

stable, unchanging, homogeneous, and geometrically abstract which did not require sustained attention. This changed in the 1960s to 1970s, starting with historian Michel Foucault’s “Of Other Spaces” in 1967. Foucault argued for the necessity to study space and proclaimed the twentieth century to be the age of space: “We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the ­side-by-side, of the dispersed” (Foucault, “Of Other Spaces” 22, italics added). Foucault introduced new ways of thinking about space as heterogeneous, a way of reading that informs more recent theorizations of space. This study works with theorizations by Henry Lefebvre, Edward Soja, and Doreen Massey. These scholars not only approach space as heterogeneous but specifically draw attention to the processuality and the social construction of space. Henri Lefebvre’s influential work focuses on the process of construction of space. Instead of contemplating space as a natural given, Lefebvre argues that it is constructed in and by society (26). As Şemsettin Tabur highlights, Lefebvre’s approach emphasizes that human beings become actors who actively produce space instead of merely inhabiting it (22). Space is utilized by political and industrial authorities and individuals; it is therefore the product of ideologies and ways of thinking (Lefebvre 9–10). Lefebvre theorizes the production of space in terms of a spatial triad consisting of the perceived (“spatial practice”), conceived (“[r]epresentations of spaces”), and lived (“representational spaces”) construction of social space (33–34; 38–39). Perceived space brings together processes of production and reproduction in a (capitalist) society (33). The mental reproduction of space is tied to specific purposes which physical space serves, reaching from spaces coded by an individual’s daily routines to the spaces of “urban reality” which display a network structure linking work spaces, private spaces, and spaces of relaxation/leisure (38). Conceived space refers to space as an abstract concept in the mind of “scientists, planners, urbanists, technocratic subdividers and social engineers” (38). This conceived space is tied to specific knowledges, ideologies, and codes which shape how space is conceived for the general public by authorities, e.g., by architects and politicians (33). As Edward Soja notes, this dimension of space becomes problematic in a capitalist society: Space is coded as “natural” despite being an ideological product which is suffused with “relations of power and discipline” (Soja, Postmodern Geographies 6). As Winfried Fluck emphasizes, the perception of space by an individual brings together personal sense impressions and an “ordering principle” which enables people to make sense of what they perceive (25). This

20 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio “ordering principle” does not emerge from the individual but is supplied and presupposed by the conceived space provided to individuals by authorities. The dialectics of perceived/conceived space play an important role for ­neo-frontier spaces: Conceived spaces are determined by (political) authorities in Star Trek, Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100. It therefore becomes important to examine how ­neo-frontier spaces are coded with political and social ideologies. The last part of Lefebvre’s triad is constituted by lived spaces in which conceived spaces come together with how individuals make use of space by living in it (Lefebvre 39). Edward Soja has built on Lefebvre’s theory by introducing the concept of “Thirdspace” (Soja, Thirdspace 2). Thirdspace offers the opportunity to recombine perceived and conceived spaces in creative and generative new ways in lived practice (5): It can become a space of resistance to established spatial ideologies and practices of using (social) space. Thirdspace ­re-conceptualizes spaces not as completely predetermined by ideologies but as open, fluid, and changeable. Lived space and its potential power of resistance informs my analysis of ­neo-frontier spaces as it provides a useful angle in order to examine how ­neo-frontier spaces engage and break with the frontier myth, the SF frontier, and traditional ways of thinking about spaces. This openness of space is also a key point in the recent work of geographer Doreen Massey. Massey rethinks space on the basis of openness and heterogeneity. She introduces three key propositions. First, space can be read as “the product of interrelations; as constituted through interactions” (9). Second, it possesses an inherent quality of “coexisting heterogeneity.” Third, it is “always in the process of being made” (9, italics added). Her first point emphasizes that space is a relational construct and connects it to subjective and political identities of individuals. These identities are constantly renegotiated and reconstructed, a process which in effect also restructures space (10). Her second point hinges on a postcolonial stance which decenters a homogeneous conception of “the West” as she acknowledges the “simultaneous coexistence of others with their own trajectories and their own stories to tell” (11). Space always presents “a plurality of trajectories; a simultaneity of ­stories-so-far” (12). Her last proposition that space is “always in process” (11) turns space into an open construct in which new connections, juxtapositions, and relations can be made. Therefore, space is marked by “the element of surprise, the unexpected, the other” (112). Like L ­ efebvre, she emphasizes that space is a social and political product which hinges on human actors interacting with each other and, like Soja, she contends that it is open for political interventions which can question established spatial ideologies (Massey 71). However, what makes her



1. Theorizing N ­ eo-Frontier Spaces21

approach so useful is that she rethinks the role of temporality. In contrast to the grand narratives of modernity—such as Progress, Development, Modernization, and modes of production (11)—which emphasize time over space, she rethinks space as a “sphere of coevalness; of radical contemporaneity” and “an instantaneity of interconnections” (14). Space is changeable in time (100) but also a collection of different trajectories and histories that coexist and interact in one specific space (148). Instead of contrasting a linear progression of time with unchanging spaces, space becomes temporal and time becomes spatial. As literary scholar Bertrand Westphal argues, space and time in the ­t wenty-first century are “inextricably meshed” and can only be addressed together (26). This approach informs my reading of how recent television series interrogate the relationship between space and time. Contemporary space theory also often departs from traditional readings of space as clearly bordered as it is considered to be marked by a “state of transgressivity” (Westphal 46). Transgressivity constitutes “a movement, transition, or crossing in defiance of established norms” (72).4 As a heterogeneous construct, space presupposes mobility and interaction (46)—especially as ideologies of perceived and conceived space can be countered by how individuals act and live in space (Lefebvre, Soja, Massey). Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 draw on binaries (Self/Other, inside/outside, wilderness/civilization, nature/city, utopia/ dystopia, striated space/smooth space, fixity/mobility) in how they represent perceived and conceived spaces. The construction of lived spaces undermines this logic of clear boundaries: In these series, borders are constantly crossed and spaces interact with each other; i.e., transgressivity is central to how these series construct ­neo-frontier spaces. Another important element is the issue of representation. Stuart Hall posits that representation “involve[s] the use of language, of signs and images which stand for or represent things” (“The Work of Representation”15, italics added). What becomes significant here is how television series negotiate the relationship between reality and the fictional world. I am specifically concerned with the relations between a ­real-world referent and a fictional representation, an issue which is often addressed under the umbrella term of referentiality (Westphal 6). Bertrand Westphal argues that postmodern fiction does not create replicas of existing spaces (76). He posits that “fiction does not mimic reality, but it actualizes virtualities hitherto unexpressed, which then interact with the real according to the hypertextual logic of interfaces” (103, italics in original). Winfried Fluck adds to this by decoupling fictional representation from a ­re-presentation of the “real” world. He proposes to approach the representation of objects and spaces as an

22 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio “aesthetic object” (26). An aesthetic object enables new ways of thinking as “we do not look at it any longer in terms of its referential representativeness but regard it as a form of representation that has the freedom to redefine and transform reality or even to invent it anew” (26). Westphal and Fluck theorize representation as a generative process which creates something genuinely new rather than creating copies of the real world (under the assumption of verisimilitude). It is this approach which proves useful for analyzing ­neo-frontier spaces. Robert L. McKinney notes that SF constructs “places of alterity” (81) which are marked by “novelty, difference, transgression, deviance, or transformation” (65). The terms he employs here significantly overlap with the contemporary theorizations of space outlined here. ­Neo-frontier spaces refer to ­real-world spaces (e.g., Chicago in Terra Nova, Virginia in The 100, and St. Louis in Defiance) but they radically transform these spaces. ­Neo-frontier spaces hence depart from mimetic representation and create complex speculative spaces which hold the potential “to redefine and transform reality or even to invent it anew.”

From Frontiers to ­Neo-Frontier Spaces The frontier came to prominence as a historical concept which was used to describe the colonization of North America from the seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century. Later, it developed into a myth of U.S. American origin (Lehan xii, Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 11). This subchapter charts approaches to the frontier both as a historical concept and a narrative myth that still shapes U.S. popular culture. The focus lies on surveying significant reinterpretations and revisions of the frontier, which provide a theoretical basis for analyzing ­neo-frontier spaces in contemporary SF television. The frontier was used to describe the gradual process of settlement of North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific, originating with the first Puritan settlements in the early seventeenth century 5 (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 16–24). Midwestern historian Frederick Jackson Turner conceptualized the frontier both as a process and a spatial borderline. According to him, the frontier constituted both “the outer edge of the wave [of settlement]” and “the meeting point between savagery and civilization” (Turner 199). His definitions of the frontier were part of a speech titled “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” Addressing the members of the American Historical Association at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Turner formulated his key thesis:



1. Theorizing N ­ eo-Frontier Spaces23 The existence of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development. […] The peculiarity of American institutions is [sic] the fact that they have been compelled to adapt themselves to the changes of an expanding people— to the changes involved in crossing a continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life [Turner 199].

Turner constructed a linear historical narrative from “winning” the wilderness to settling on “free land” and a gradual cultivation of “civilization.” His narrative inadvertently also engaged in ­myth-making as he tied this process to an idealized image of Americans: The frontier, according to him, functioned as a melting pot, fusing immigrants from various places of origin, cultures, religions, and societies into “a mixed race” which was neither European nor specifically English (215– 216). Turner attributed these new “Americans” with a “pioneer personality type” (Brown, Beyond the Frontier 26). He presented Americans as energetic, optimistic, inventive, individualistic, restless, strong and ­f reedom-loving (Turner 226–227; Brown, Beyond the Frontier 26). The historical accuracy of the Frontier Thesis was mostly taken for granted in the early twentieth century and became the dominant approach taken by American historians studying U.S. (Western) history (Smith 3; Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 3). Turner’s thesis was rooted in ­n ineteenth-century historicism which held that history had to follow “a principle of unity” which was equated with given, unchangeable laws of nature (Lehan 29). With the advance of “New Western History” in the 1980s to 1990s this understanding came under attack: Historians such as Richard White, Donald Worster, and Patricia Nelson Limerick challenged the Frontier Thesis and began to revise the concept of the frontier (Altenbernd and Young 134–135). Limerick rejected Turner’s claim about “free land” there for the taking and instead argued that the West was “the focal point of conquest” (Limerick 19). She criticized the concept for its simplification and reductionism of historical events and for its singular concern with a temporal colonization process (including a teleological narrative of the development of “the West”) instead of examining the West as a place of its own (26). Limerick approached the West as a contact zone where various peoples interacted with each other, especially Native American tribes which were either assimilated, confined, or expelled by the new “American” colonizer in the name of capitalist appropriation (27–28). Other scholars critiqued Turner’s concept for muting and veiling questions of race, class, and gender (Ridge 10) and for its geographical homogenization of “the West” (Hixson 1).

24 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Hence, the concept was debunked in twentieth- to ­t wenty-first-century historiographical research. In fact, it has been mostly abandoned in contemporary studies of the history of the U.S. West (Altenbernd and Young 133) with scholars following in step with the assessment that the concept is “arbitrary and riddled with exceptions and qualifications” (Limerick 23).6 Instead, these revisionist readings of U.S. Western historiography emphasize the complex contact between ethnicities, genders, and cultures in a contact zone/borderland rather than at a frontier line. Although the frontier has lost its validity in historiographical research, the term retains its usefulness as a myth. It had and still has a profound impact until today as the frontier myth is constantly retold, reworked and transformed in American (popular) culture (Le Menager 533, Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 53).7 Myths draw on historical experiences and perceptions of a society and cultural beliefs that this society uses to understand itself and to define itself in opposition to other societies (Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 5–6). They unify these experiences and ideologies under an overarching historical narrative (here of the frontier) which serves to both explain this society’s past but also works to define the cultural and national identity of American society in the present (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 6–7; Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 26). Since the 1950s, scholars have examined the frontier as a myth in popular culture, especially the ­s o-called “Myth and Symbol school” which should later develop into American Studies (Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 21). In Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth, published in 1950, Henry Nash Smith focuses on the American West and its “collective interpretations” (XI) in literature and intellectual thinking from the eighteenth century to the Frontier Thesis (cf. Smith 4). He examines the relationship between myth, symbols, and American history (VII). He argues for the necessity of myth for American culture as he posits that national history requires “images which simultaneously express collective desires and impose coherence on the infinitely numerous and infinitely varied data of experience” (IX). His analysis focuses on “the Myth of the Great American desert” (IX), the “myth of the garden” (251), the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jeffersonian agrarianism and the Frontier Thesis. For instance, he emphasizes that the myth of the garden set up nature as a “norm of value” in contrast to industrialized society and civilization (256). At the same time, he acknowledges the loss of the potency of different versions of the frontier myth after World War I as it no longer was able to account for the realities of more industrialized urban society in the United States (260).



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Smith’s work was followed up on by Leo Marx and his Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (1964). Like Smith, Marx is interested in the intersection between culture, literature and “cultural symbols”/myths (4). He explores the frontier myth through a focus on the “pastoral ideal” (4)—the yearning for a return to nature within a thoroughly industrialized American society (4–6). He distinguishes between a popular form of sentimental pastoralism (5–9)—including outdoor activities like camping and fishing but also Westerns—and a “complex pastoralism” (362) expressed in literature by, e.g., Melville, Thoreau, Twain, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway (10, 355– 365). He argues that these writers grappled with the realization that a mythical pastoral ideal—hence once central component of the frontier myth—had lost its validity in an environment and a society dominated by industry and machines (357–364). While Smith and Marx already diagnosed a cultural struggle with the validity and applicability of the frontier myth within urbanized and industrialized U.S. society from the nineteenth century up to the 1960s, American Studies scholarship of the 1970s not only continued this dialectical approach to the frontier myth but reevaluated the concept of myth itself and the ways in which it informed readings of U.S. culture in American Studies. As Kapell notes, the problem of the Myth and Symbol school lay in its relatively uncritical approach to the term myth as it was seen as a tool for understanding American culture (Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 23). A more critical approach was established in Richard Slotkin’s monumental analysis of the literary, cultural, and political history of the frontier myth in Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier 1600–1860 (1973), The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization 1800–1890 (1985), and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in TwentiethCentury America (1992). Slotkin charts the development of the frontier myth in American culture up to the twentieth century (Regeneration Through Violence 4). He approaches the frontier myth in the context of an American “national phenomenon of ­myth-consciousness, this continental preoccupation with the necessity of defining or creating a national identity, a character for us to live in the world” (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5). Slotkin examines connections between history, ­myth-making and a national American identity. In his analysis of Puritan writings, captivity narratives, and Westerns he investigates how the frontier myth worked in different time periods and how “the myth of the regeneration through violence became the structuring metaphor of the American experience” (5). In Gunfighter Nation, he studies the role of the mass media in appropriating and transforming the Frontier

26 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Myth in U.S. popular culture in the twentieth century (4–8). Slotkin’s analysis emphasizes the political dimension of the frontier myth as he discusses the interrelationship between American popular culture and the agendas of Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan (25). He demonstrates that the frontier myth has been and is mutable: Historical events and politics modify the acceptance of the myth in mass culture and they prompt revisions and foster the creation of new myths which help humans to better understand their history and their contemporary identity (Slotkin 654, 654).8 Recent studies have also begun to dissect the frontier into its various literary and cultural dimensions. In Quest West, Richard Lehan points out that the West was a geographical region, a “cultural idea” (35), a religious and political ideology, and a “mythic realm” (35). Both Slotkin and Lehan approach the frontier as a complex phenomenon which changes according to current political agendas and ideologies (Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 654) but also according to new approaches of “historical and literary interpretation” (Lehan 97). Lehan differentiates between the “wilderness frontier” and the “urban frontier” (17). Whereas the wilderness frontier spawned the genre of the Western, the urban frontier developed into the genres of literary naturalism and noir fiction (19). The wilderness frontier coded spaces as democratic and promoted individualism and the taking of “the land.” In contrast, the urban frontier emerged with the United States becoming “a commercialindustrial-urban nation” and an imperial agent in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century (179). The urban frontier also articulated a sense of urban decline—caused by capitalist exploitation and greed— which became a central element in naturalist and noir fiction (180). This renewed interest in cities also constitutes a useful vantage point on neofrontier spaces which are also marked by a construction of urban spaces in Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100. Research in SF studies has also shifted from identifying the frontier myth in SF texts to more complex approaches. Scholarship of the 1980s, exemplified by David Mogen’s Wilderness Visions: The Western Theme in Science Fiction Literature (1982) and Gary Wolfe’s “Frontiers in Space” (1989), focused on how the frontier myth was transferred into outer space and the future. Mogen sought to demonstrate a parallel between the colonization of the West and the colonization of alien worlds in the fiction of Huxley, Heinlein and Asimov, including the problems of technological progress (15). According to him, SF both affirms ideals that were popularized by the frontier myth but also criticizes ideologies of progress (16). Wolfe emphasizes that SF provides “new frontiers” (248) by displacing its narratives to outer space and that



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it presents mythological imagery in a new form (252) but also argues that representations of the SF frontier became increasingly complex as authors such as Asimov, Heinlein and Dick grappled with “diverse themes such as economic expansion, particle physics, planetary exploration and, the ancient myth of the hunt” (262). Both Mogen and Wolfe therefore broadened the scope for studying the frontier in SF by examining the interplay of space, science, technology, capitalism, and mythical narratives. This trend is continued in scholarship of the 2000s to 2010s. The contributors of the collection Space and Beyond: The Frontier Theme in Science Fiction (2000) examine a wide variety of aspects, including analyses of how mythical patterns are subverted in SF literature and movies (George), ­fi rst-contact scenarios and nuclear apocalypse narratives (Caldwell, Sharp), questions of gender relations (Williams), the relationship between the frontier myth and SF subgenres (Pringle), and narrative and technological representations of space (Westfahl, “The True Frontier,” Weinbaum, Konigsberg). They engage with the frontier in a more skeptical manner in following New Western history (Westfahl, “Introduction” 3). All articles highlight “recurring tensions between an ongoing desire to fulfill Kennedy’s vision of space as the New Frontier and a growing realization that space may be unable or ­i ll-suited to play that role” in the SF texts they analyze (3). In Frontiers Past and Future (2006), Carl Abbott emphasizes that SF has shifted from replaying the frontier myth in space toward engaging with complex social, cultural, and ecological concerns, e.g., in the fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 183). Abbott’s studies Frontiers Past and Future (2006) and Imagined Frontiers (2015) take a regionalist approach as he connects present trends in Texas, Nevada, California, and Colorado with SF works set in the future West. In Future West (2008), William H. Katerberg is similarly concerned with representations of the U.S. West in SF but his approach analyzes SF novels and movies from the vantage point of utopia and dystopia (Katerberg 6–7). In his analysis of Kim Stanley Robinson, Leslie Marmon Silko, Ernest Callenbach, and Walter Miller, Katerberg examines how utopia/dystopia works in their novels and how they become means for demythologizing the U.S. West. He argues that in these works the U.S. West no longer provides a source of salvation but is itself in need of salvation (Katerberg 212). Essentially, Katerberg contends that future frontier narratives have didactic value as their imagined utopian or dystopian futures call for a ­re-evaluation of present trends and ideologies (Katerberg 217). What becomes apparent in this brief overview is that most studies focus on literature and film. The relevance of the frontier for the

28 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio equally important medium of television is only marginally addressed. Wolfe, Abbott, and Karl Guthke only briefly discuss the relevance of the frontier in Star Trek (Wolfe, “Frontiers in Space” 249; Guthke 20–21; Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 23). Abbott’s Imagined Frontiers includes a short part on the ­SF-western hybrid series Firefly. The relevance of the frontier is at least briefly addressed in comprehensive works on SF television. The few existing surveys of the field mostly acknowledge the importance of the frontier for the medium.9 In Science Fiction Film and Television (2009), Lincoln Geraghty references the frontier in his discussions of Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica as “an allegorical device for exploring the nation’s history” (65). In Science Fiction TV (2014), J.P. Telotte identifies a frontier “trekking” tradition reaching from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica (107) and discusses ­SF-Western hybrids such as Star Trek, Space Rangers, Cowboy Bebop, and Firefly (150–156). He reads these series as engaging with the SF frontier myth in a nostalgic fashion and as appropriating elements of the frontier Western (151). Jan ­Johnson-Smith’s American Science Fiction TV: Star Trek, Stargate and Beyond (2005) even presents the frontier myth as a crucial historical influence on SF television (7). She argues that SF television—particularly Star Trek—created a new frontier myth in following Kennedy’s “New Frontier” and offered “an alternative, or perhaps a mutation, to inspire the collective American psyche” (48) which influenced a range of subsequent SF series (49). Three points are noteworthy about this brief history of scholarship on the SF frontier. First, scholarship has moved from analyzing the frontier as a myth and narrative transplaced into outer space to more complex readings which address colonialism, gender, race, economics, physics, genres, modes, science, utopia/dystopia. Second, the recent works by Abbott and Katerberg show a renewed interest in studying the frontier in SF from a spatial/geographical perspective. Whereas earlier studies focused on outer space, these studies are interested in how SF transforms spaces and places in speculative U.S. American Wests. This focus on spatiality is also reflected in recent definitions of the SF frontier as “places and zones of convergence where people, products, and ideas can be exchanged and intermingled” (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 3, italics mine) and as “a meeting place between cultures and civilizations” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167, italics mine). Third, the SF frontier has not been studied comprehensively in SF television studies. This study follows up on the renewed focus on space, place, and geography in the studies by Abbott and Katerberg and the utopia/dystopia angle in Katerberg’s Future West and it fills an academic gap by systematically examining the representation of (neo-)frontier spaces in SF television.



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In contrast to Abbott and Katerberg, this project shifts the focus away from questions of genre and instead examines ways of thinking about spaces in U.S. popular culture of the ­t wenty-first century. I also approach space in contemporary SF television in a more systematic manner by incorporating theories of space as a framework for analysis and by bringing together postcolonial/settler colonial studies, ecocriticism, risk theory, and utopian/dystopian studies.

2 Frontiers of Futures Past Outer Space and the Origins of ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Star Trek and Firefly The construction of ­neo-frontier spaces marks SF television in the 2010s. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account that television series of the twentieth and early ­t wenty-first century drew on the SF frontier myth while also already opening up new ways of thinking about frontier spaces. They interrogated conventions of the SF frontier and the frontier myth in their representation of colonial spaces, environmental spaces, spaces of risk, and utopian/dystopian spaces. I will focus on two paradigmatic examples, Star Trek and Firefly (2002–2003). Star Trek—broadcast on NBC from 1966 to 1969—was created by Gene Roddenberry who conceptualized the series as “the Wagon Train to the stars” (Blair 310), a Western in outer space which follows the voyages of exploration of the starship Enterprise and its crew in the far future (2266–2269). Star Trek spawned a ­long-lasting franchise that includes 10 television series and 13 movies. Star Trek has often been discussed throughout the last fifty years. A ­re-examination is important for two reasons: First, Star Trek engages with frontier spaces and the frontier myth explicitly by constructing outer space as a “Final Frontier.” Second, Star Trek still exerts a significant influence on American SF television, including Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, The 100. While scholars have often examined Star Trek’s engagement with the frontier myth, I contend that ­neo-frontier ways of thinking about space already constitute an important part in the series.1 Star Trek also differs from the other series that are analyzed in that it does not draw on the post­ apocalyptic in how it frames frontier spaces. In spite of that, many of the strategies it employs can also be found in later series, although the postapocalyptic in Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 allows for 30



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a more complex and ­i n-depth exploration of especially environmental spaces and riskscapes. Firefly was created by Joss Whedon and was broadcast on Fox from 2002 to 2003 as a ­SF-Western-hybrid that follows a crew of criminals on a cargo ship in 2517 who struggle to survive in a universe controlled by the oppressive Alliance, an interstellar empire that exploits human populations on border planets for the generation of profit on central core planets. Not unlike Star Trek, Firefly engages with the SF frontier myth as it blurs elements from the Western and SF but it also constructs a complex heterogenous system of spaces that challenges thinking about space(s) in terms of binaries such as Self/Other, wilderness/civilization, utopia/dystopia. The series also reflects critically on environmental and technological risks in the ­t wenty-first century. This critical rethinking and opening up of new ways of thinking about frontier spaces turns Firefly into a historical predecessor of the ­neo-frontier spaces constructed in SF television of the 2010s.

Reading the Frontier in Star Trek Star Trek’s engagement with the frontier has often been the focus of scholarly attention. Two major lines of interpretation inform my analysis: First, Star Trek has often been read as an adaptation of the frontier myth in terms of the “Final Frontier” of outer space. Second, scholarship often examines Star Trek’s frontier within its historical context of the 1960s and connects this historical context with questions of utopianism, race/ethnicity, and religion. In “Star Trek as Myth and Television as Mythmaker” (1977), William Blake Tyrrell argues that Star Trek adapts the frontier myth to outer space (21) but also highlights that it rejected ­planet-based utopian communities in favor of a utopian belief in progress and technological development (21–26). Tyrrell’s focus on “paradise episodes” has been followed up on by Karin Blair in “The Garden in the Machine: The Why of Star Trek” (1979) and Matthew Wilhelm Kapell in Exploring the Next Frontier (2016). Blair concludes that Star Trek rejects perfection and stasis in favor of a society coded by an ethic of hard work, technological mastery, and humanist ideologies (317). Kapell reads these episodes as a rejection not only of a frontier paradise but also of utopias as purportedly utopian conditions are only sustained by a loss of individuality and of a belief in progress (152). As all three highlight, these episodes present frontier utopias as unrealizable or dystopian. This seems to indicate that Star Trek criticizes frontier ideologies.

32 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Nevertheless, many scholars have emphasized that Star Trek follows the frontier myth (Blair 310; Pilkington 54; Westfahl, “Introduction” 2–3; Kanzler 102; Geraghty, Living with Star Trek, 56–57; Kapell, “Introduction” 4–5). Ace G. Pilkington reads Star Trek as adopting “the Western’s sense of freedom, of unlimited horizons and untrammeled action” (57). Matthew Wilhelm Kapell even sees Star Trek as a direct descendant of Turner’s Frontier Thesis (“Introduction,” 8–9): “[T]he existence of an area of free space, its continuing recession, and the advance of Federation colonies outward, explain Federation development” (10, italics in original). All of these readings imply a ­one-on-one transplantation of the mythical frontier to outer space, crafting the crew as frontier heroes. Scholarship has, however, also adopted a more critical angle in following New Western History. Focus has shifted to examining Star Trek’s historical context, such as the Vietnam War and Cold War (Worland; Franklin; Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 155–163), and U.S. race relations in the 1960s (Bernardi, Star Trek and History; Bernardi “Star Trek in the 1960s”; Telotte 84–88; Kanzler; Kneis; Whitehall 174– 177; Kwan 59–70). Worland, Franklin, and Kapell each read Star Trek as replaying the Vietnam War on alien planets, revolving around “two ideologically opposed superpower blocs that compete for the hearts and minds of Third World Planets” (Worland 110). Franklin concurs with this but argues that Star Trek changed its representational strategies from embracing intervention in other societies to criticizing Vietnam War in later episodes (24–33). In Exploring the Next Frontier, Kapell puts the disillusionment about Vietnam in relation to a cultural waning of the validity and usefulness of frontier thinking (2). Not unlike Franklin, Kapell argues that Star Trek engages with the Vietnam War to express “mythic damage being caused by Vietnam” and a “mythic exhaustion” of frontier ideology (163). These readings suggest that Star Trek goes beyond a simplistic resurrection of the frontier myth and its ideologies. They suggest that Star Trek engages with spaces in a complex fashion and questions the frontier while also explicitly celebrating it elsewhere. A similar ambivalence underlies readings of race relations in Star Trek against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and national legislations in the 1960s. Star Trek has often been praised for constructing utopian social spaces in terms of a “multicultural discourse” (Kanzler 67) and “racial harmony” (Telotte 85), expressed through a ­p ost-racist, ­p ost-capitalist Earth (Bernardi, “Star Trek in the 1960s,” 209). However, Star Trek’s liberal humanist approach to race has often been read as contradictory (Bernardi, Star



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Trek and History 23; Telotte 85).2 Bernardi notes that racial “minority” crew members are often reduced to the background (Star Trek and History, 39–44) and concludes that Star Trek is a “­white-washed future” (Bernardi, “Star Trek in the 1960s,” 225): Ethnically and racially different characters are only accepted once they have been consumed by the liberal humanist melting pot of the United States (217). Moreover, most civilizations the Enterprise encounters are built on white Western societies, whereas species of a “darker” color tone such as the Klingons present a “sinister threat” (Star Trek and History, 56). Allen Kwan criticizes Star Trek’s “ framework of normative Whiteness” (59, italics in original) and Phillipp Kneis notes that Star Trek constructs a “myth of the ­non-imperial republic” (106) to disguise its racist attitudes toward the alien Other which is seen as lacking and inferior to humanity (107). Aliens are often coded as primitively tribal or ­pre-industrial and are denied complexity, diversity, and political virtues (109, 124). In addition, these scholars critique that the Federation ruthlessly imposes its own values and ideologies on alien civilizations—the Federation’s liberal humanist democratic system is presented as the neutral norm which everyone in the universe ought to follow (Kneis 110, Fulton qtd. in Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 164; Buzan 177). Readings of the frontier, of historical contexts and of race relations have broadened the analysis of spaces in Star Trek beyond a replaying of the mythical frontier. In the context of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement, Star Trek has been criticized for replicating traditional power relations, hierarchies, and ideologies, with these relations embracing the frontier as an imperialistic white and masculine construct. My own argument broadens the analytical scope by taking into account how frontier spaces in Star Trek are not only shaped by the frontier myth and race but also by the relationality of space(s), technological risks, and utopia and dystopia.

Pushing the “Final Frontier”: Exploring Heterogeneous Spaces in Star Trek The frontier in Star Trek takes two forms—the “Final Frontier” of the universe and planetary frontier spaces. The representation of outer space as a frontier is codified in the series’ opening sequence: Space—the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its ­five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

34 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio This opening narration is accompanied by the Enterprise crossing the vastness of outer space, orbiting a planet in a ­close-up before “swooshing” toward the camera/screen. The visuals and narration clearly draw on the frontier as a movable borderline. They translate “free land” into “free space.” Star Trek presents outer space in colonial terms through an emphasis on exploration and colonial encounters. It even literalizes the “Final Frontier” as a geographical borderline pushed further and further in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” in which the Enterprise breaches an energy field surrounding their galaxy in order to penetrate into another galaxy.3 Star Trek codes the crew in terms of the “heroic” Western explorer, an image drawn from ­n ineteenth-century travel writing and colonial encounter fiction which revolved around “narratives of heroism and bold deeds” (Sharp 39). This type is embodied by the scout who reconnoiters unknown territory, maps it for appropriation and exploitation, and conquers “wilderness” and ­presumed-to-be-savage natives (40). The opening sequence translates this into the imperative “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.” As Katja Kanzler (102) and Philipp Kneis (“Barbarians at the Gate” 106) demonstrate, the sequence silences negative imperial and colonial implications under the benevolent agenda of increasing the Federation’s knowledge about the universe. By divorcing colonial exploration from capitalist practices—the Federation qualifies for a nonprofit institution propelled by a voluntary contribution of skills and labor (Kanzler 102)—Star Trek codes its colonialist endeavor as a purely positive one. This “almost Communist utopia” (Kanzler 102) is continually contrasted with other institutions. The Klingon Empire represents a more aggressive imperialist form of colonialism associated with a “military dictatorship and glorification of war, conquest of weaker planets, and murder of civilians” (Worland 110) and emphasizes the negative impact of the colonizer on colonized societies, e.g., through practices of expropriation, forced settlement, a recoding of the land, the presence of an imperial administration, and the exploitation of resources (Rieder, Science Fiction and the Emergence of Colonialism 24). Therefore, the Klingon Empire embodies negative aspects of colonialism as a ­counter-image to the supposedly benevolent, positive colonialism of the Federation. The Federation aims at colonizing space not only by establishing outposts but also on an ideological level. Valarie Fulton criticizes the Federation for its concealed cultural imperialist agenda and Worland identifies a “­sugar-coated imperialism” (Worland 117). Although not



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conquering alien civilizations, its mandate reveals “missions that clearly contradict each other unless read through the lens of frontier ideology, which grants new civilizations existence only to the extent that the originary culture has ‘found’ them” (Fulton qtd. in Kapell Exploring the Next Frontier 164). By continuously using the label “new,” the opening sequence establishes a power hierarchy between the exploring Federation as colonial Self against alien civilizations as ­to-be-explored colonized Others. This cultural imperialist agenda also ties Star Trek to Manifest Destiny. As Richard Lehan highlights, the frontier was entangled with a “romantic destiny” reaching back to Puritan communities in the seventeenth century (22). The Puritans perceived of their endeavor as a divine task to create a New Jerusalem on Earth bestowed upon them as exceptional people, chosen by God (22). The “American experience” was tied to taking the land via a biblical mandate, epitomized by John Winthrop’s famous “Citty upon a Hill, [where] the eyes of all people are uppon us” (Winthrop 317) which gave rise to American exceptionalism (Lehan xiv). Star Trek divorces Manifest Destiny from its religious origin. The series is skeptical of religion. Nevertheless, Star Trek is driven by a new form of Manifest Destiny, rooted in the liberal humanist “drive to actualize humanity” (Whitehall 175) in encounters with alien Others and the Federation’s own ideology of exceptionalism. Both beliefs work in unison to make this Manifest Destiny a compulsive one. In “The Corbomite Maneuver” and “Spectre of the Gun” alien buoys block the ship’s path. In both cases, Kirk rejects the possibility of turning back. As the mission is to “seek out and make contact with alien life” (“The Corbomite Maneuver”) and to make “contact at all costs” (“Spectre of the Gun,” italics added), invasion of alien territories is legitimized even against the will of native civilizations. This even runs counter to the Federation’s own Prime Directive that states that the Federation should not interfere with the “natural” development of alien societies. In these instances, exploration becomes invasion and conquest of space. In a sense, the Federation’s Manifest Destiny resurrects Slotkin’s “myth of regeneration through violence” (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5). He highlights that the belief in regeneration and renewal at the frontier required violent actions to be realized (5). A similar logic underlies the actualization of humanity through forcefully making contact with Others in Star Trek. The compulsive drive to reaffirm the Federation’s exceptionalism requires the violent intrusion into outer space: Pushing the Final Frontier forward allows for the Federation to regenerate its sense of self. While Star Trek’s representation of outer space is still tied to frontier mythical thinking, it occasionally explores new ways of thinking

36 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio about spaces which move beyond the frontier myth. It does so by (temporarily) ­re-conceptualizing colonial spaces in terms of what Massey calls “coexisting heterogeneity” (9) and “radical contemporaneity”; i.e., space is marked by “an instantaneity of interconnections” (14). In “Balance of Terror,” McCoy comforts Kirk during a crisis: [In] this galaxy there is a mathematical probability of three million earth type planets and in all of the universe, three million million (sic!) galaxies like this and in all that, or perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.

McCoy’s advice points out the uniqueness of Kirk as a human being located within the vast space of the universe but it also enables a posthumanist perspective. In What Is Posthumanism? Cary Wolfe argues that posthumanist thinking decenters the place of humans in the universe by acknowledging that the environment is conceived, perceived and lived in different ways by different lifeforms (xxiii).4 Wolfe calls for a radical rethinking of space by revising “­t aken-for-granted modes of human experience, including the normal perceptual modes and affective states of Homo sapiens itself ” (xxv, italics in original). McCoy’s comment puts humanity in relation to “three million million galaxies.” He decenters humanity’s importance and highlights the existence of multiple civilizations which simultaneously live their lives in multiple places. He therefore presents the universe as a space characterized by what Massey calls the “multiplicity of ­stories-so-far” (9)—a relational perspective which counters the Federation’s ­self-understanding. Star Trek also employs the ­a lien-encounter-scenario as another instance in which colonial ideologies become revised in favor of a momentarily more relational understanding of space. As ­Csicsery-Ronay notes, one of the major problems with the alien lies in humanity’s incapability to imagine something completely different from itself: Human cognition always takes recourse to established narratives and human modes of understanding the self in understanding others (“Some Things We Know About Aliens” 8–9). However, aliens can become mediators: The alien as “external mediator teaches, impresses, saves, and from it we learn to transcend our limitations” (10, italics added). In “The Immunity Syndrome” the crew investigates the disappearance of the Intrepid and discovers that system Gamma 7A has disappeared into a “hole in space.” The Enterprise enters it and the crew discovers that it is a massive living organism that resembles an amoeba. The organism is in a state of mitosis, posing a danger to both the Enterprise and entire star systems in its replication process. In the episode, the use of terminology of viral infection enables a



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more relational understanding of space. McCoy avers that the amoeba is “like a virus invading the body of our galaxy,” whereas Kirk counters that the Enterprise’s spatial position within the organism turns the ship itself into a virus invading the amoeba’s “body.” The germ/viral analogy prompts a shift of perspective: Kirk’s comment decenters human ways of understanding space—whereas the amoeba constitutes a virus bent on destroying the galaxy from the Federation’s point of view, the (anticipated) point of view of the amoeba codes the Enterprise as the viral invader of a living organism. As such, the series here implicitly critiques the frontier ideology of the Federation and presents space as a heterogeneous construct. The relational use of the term “virus” in the discussion between Kirk and McCoy furthermore counters binaristic understandings of space. As Priscilla Wald notes, a virus breaks down the border between life and death, existing in an ­i n-between state (158). Similarly, the virus analogy in “The Immunity Syndrome” destabilizes thinking about space in terms of binaries such as open/closed, inside/outside, safe space/dangerous space, and living/dead. The amoeba as a “virus” moves through open space but the viral analogy casts the ship as a virus inside the amoeba’s organism. Danger is both present inside the amoeba (the effects on the crew and ship) but also on the outside (e.g., for solar systems in the amoeba’s path). An ­i n-between state of living and dead is even extended to the Enterprise itself: McCoy counters the negative physical and psychological effects on the crew by giving them stimulants while recognizing that the crew is already in the process of dying. This turns the Enterprise into an ­i n-between space, alive and dead (or dying) at the same time. Binaristic ­border-thinking becomes obsolete here, breaking down traditional spatial binaries that usually inform Star Trek’s colonialist ways of thinking. Ultimately, the viral analogy implicitly critiques the Federation’s colonialist invasion/exploration doctrine and its destructive potential. The viral analogy and relational recoding of the Enterprise as a violent invader serves as a seldom moment in Star Trek in which the series questions its own colonialist underpinnings.

Planetary Frontier Spaces: Frontier Space(s) as Simulacrum Apart from presenting outer space as a Final Frontier, the series codes planets via the frontier myth by presenting them as frontier utopian paradises. This has been discussed at length by Tyrrell, Blair, and Kapell. My analysis instead examines how Star Trek also offers a critical

38 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio perspective on the frontier myth by focusing on the episode “Spectre of the Gun.” While the episode constructs an alien planet by recourse to a mythical frontier West, it stages this space as what Jean Baudrillard calls a “simulacrum” (1), in this case a simulation which deconstructs the “reality” of the historical West. In Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard argues that simulation has become the state of the world in the twentieth century. His concept becomes useful for reading Star Trek due to two reasons. First, Baudrillard ties simulation to SF (121–128); i.e., it already addresses the genre and ways of thinking in which Star Trek participates. Second, the concept provides a new perspective on the frontier myth, on historical reality, and on how SF ways of thinking engage with frontier spaces. Reading planetary frontier spaces as a simulacrum allows for a critical engagement with frontier spaces and their mythical ­constructed-ness. Baudrillard’s argument hinges on a shift in the relationship between reality and simulation: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal” (1). He indicates that simulation has replaced the “real” world and the referential function of representation. For him, simulation cannot be equated with a false or flawed form of representation (6) but it exists in a system of images (simulacra). Whereas images in the past either approached representation as mimetic or as contorting the real, the age of simulation is characterized by pure simulation artificially reconstructing a reality which itself does not exist anymore (23). In “Spectre of the Gun,” the Enterprise encroaches into the territory of the Melkotians. The Melkotians create an artificial environment that resembles a ­n ineteenth-century Western frontier city. As Baudrillard argues, simulation unhinges the “principle of reality” (3) by blurring the real and the imaginary in a simulated form (3). The frontier city in this episode typifies this process of simulation: McCoy notes that the oldfashioned revolvers with which they are equipped are terrifyingly real while the environment seems ­non-realistic. The ­mise-en-scène of the city emphasizes its state as a simulacrum—the sky is of an unnatural reddish tone and the town consists of fragmentary buildings which lack walls and ceilings. The city appears like a television stage set which is revealed as such by the camera shots. Moreover, Kirk and his team become involuntary actors as they are perceived by other characters as the Clanton gang while still wearing their Starfleet uniforms. This representation of the city can be read as a critical reflection on the fact that the mythical frontier West was very much a “romantic state of mind, an illusion” (Lehan 15, italics added) whose power lay in its symbolic dimension.



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The series also articulates a reflective ­s elf-awareness about the frontier past through how characters perceive their simulated environment. The episode references the shootout between the Clantons and Earps in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881. Spock notes that this space has been crafted from the “annals of the opening western sector of America.” However, as Baudrillard notes, history itself has become “our lost referential, that is to say our myth” (43) in a simulated world. He notes that SF artificially crafts purportedly historical worlds that are “emptied of meaning, of their original process, but hallucinatory with retrospective truth” (Baudrillard 123). The reference to Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881 and the ­C lanton-Earp-conflict reconstructs the past from a perspective of “retrospective truth”: Spock and Kirk know the course of history and reject the frontier ideologies associated with the nineteenth century West; they attempt to avoid violent conflict and aim to negotiate with their opponents instead of killing them. Star Trek here makes use of what Lincoln Geraghty calls an “alternative historical narrative” (29). Instead of replaying the frontier myth, it uses representations of historical events and places to convey a social message which takes the form of a “learn from the mistakes of the past” pattern (31). However, Star Trek’s reflection on the frontier past is undercut by the very simulation of both the historical event and place. As Baudrillard points out, simulation is unhinged from spatiotemporality as it is “without origin, immanent, without a past, without a future, a diffusion of all coordinates” (125). The simulated Tombstone is atemporal and aspatial. Neither the simulated place nor the time period have any lasting impact—Chekov is revealed not to be dead despite being shot and the rest of team “survives” the shootout with the Earps after Spock’s mind meld has assured them that the bullets are “specters without body.” Kirk’s final comment defers the Federation’s own violent invasive drive to humanity’s past: He points out that violent conflict was real in 1881 but that humanity has overcome its “instinct for violence.” This last comment problematically relegates frontier violence to the past and to a simulated space, while ignoring the Federation’s own violent pushing forward of the Final Frontier.

Planetary Spaces of Technological Risks Risk constitutes an important factor in how planets are represented in Star Trek. In sociological risk theory, risk is defined as “the anticipation of the catastrophe” (Beck, World at Risk 9, italics in original) in terms of “potential dangers” that lie in the future but have to be anticipated and managed in the present (Arnoldi, Risk: An Introduction 1).

40 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Ulrich Beck notes a shift in the meaning of risk in the twentieth century as increasing modernization and industrialization led to the development of ­so-called “risk societies” (Beck, Risk Society 6; Beck, World at Risk 6) and later even a global “world risk society” (9) in the ­t wenty-first century. In these societies, risks are no longer natural, calculable and insurable but instead they are manufactured uncertainties (8), i.e., the product of human action (14–15), and are marked by uncertain outcomes and consequences, especially considering the risks emerging from new technologies and inventions (4–8). While risks constitute a major concern for Star Trek, the series does not engage with “riskscapes”—a concept which informs my analysis of Terra Nova, Defiance and The 100. Riskscapes can be defined as “landscapes of ­multi-layered and interacting risks that represent both the materiality of real risks, and the perceptions, knowledge and imaginations of the people who live in that landscape and continuously shape and reshape its contours through their daily activities” (­Müller-Mahn xviii). Although planets in Star Trek are often at risk, they do not combine “­multi-layered and interacting risks.” Instead, they are characterized by one central risk which is not contested from multiple points of view. The risks which are explored are mostly traditional ones: wars (“Errand of Mercy,” “A Private Little War,” “The Omega Glory,” “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” “Balance of Terror,” “Arena”), natural epidemics (“This Side of Paradise,” “Operation: Annihilate!,” “The Deadly Years”) natural disasters (the threat of asteroid collisions in “The Paradise Syndrome” and “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”), and risks connected to encounters with the unknown/alien (“Arena,” “The Devil in the Dark,” “The Immunity Syndrome”). This is not surprising considering that Star Trek was produced in a time period that precedes the emergence of risk societies in the 1980s (Risk Society 9–10). Nonetheless, Star Trek still often engages with risks which emerge from either the human/alien use of technology or from highly advanced technologies. Technology is represented in an ambiguous manner. On the one hand, the series ties technology/technological progress to being human. As David E. Nye notes in Technology Matters: Questions to Live With, the evolution of humans as a species depended on technological inventions, with these innovations in turn propelling the development of complex societies (1–3). Star Trek extrapolates from developments in the Space Age and posits that space travel will be the “logical next step in human (and humanoid) cultural evolution” (Kapell, “Introduction” 7, italics in original). Star Trek envisions a ­techno-utopia in the future.5 Since the advance of industrial modernization and technology in the nineteenth century, ­techno-utopias have been based on



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beliefs in “progress, the goodness of man, and the positive impact of science” (Dinello 9). Star Trek’s belief in technological progress as a means for improving society/humanity is epitomized by the Enterprise. The ship is a utopian space that is based on technological progress: Various inventions turn the ship into a “good place”—replicators allow for the creation of food and spare parts (eliminating poverty and food shortage) and travels are facilitated by transporters. Despite this representation of a ­t echno-utopia, the series also explores instances in which technology functions as a risk to the society on a planet. SF texts often approach technology as ambivalent: Technology promises an improved future society but its use in SF also highlights contemporary fears of increasing technologization which potentially constitutes a risk to humanity and human values (Vint 4; Bukatman 5; Dinello 5–6; van der Laan 235–236). Risks of oppressive technology are addressed in episodes such as “What Are Little Girls Made Of?,” “The Return of the Archons,” “A Taste of Armageddon,” “The Apple,” “The Changeling,” “The Ultimate Computer,” “The Doomsday Machine” and “I, Mudd.” “A Taste of Armaggedon” and “The Apple” are of particular interest here as they engage with how technologies shape and construct social and physical spaces on a planetary scale. In “A Taste of Armaggedon” the society on Eminiar VII is waging war on Vendikar through an automated supercomputer system that simulates attacks from both sides and calculates casualty numbers. These calculated “deaths” are “executed” by the Eminians stepping into disintegration chambers. The supercomputer is presented as consisting of several massive interlinked computers. This extrapolates from 1940s to 1950s supercomputers such as MARK I, COLOSSUS, ENIAC and UNIVAC which were used in the United States for accomplishing “World War II military objectives—breaking Nazi secret codes, launching missiles, guiding ­a nti-aircraft weaponry, and constructing atomic bombs” (Dinello 87). In contrast to the ­techno-utopian Enterprise, technology is here attached to its historical past and military applications for annihilation. Militarized technology here functions as a risk which does not lead to an improved society but to a catastrophic war between two planets. The full automation of the war also has profound impacts on the construction of social spaces on Eminiar VI and Vendikar. Space is no longer perceived, conceived and lived from a human point of view but these cognitive and physical functions are outsourced to the supercomputer. The Eminian society becomes subjected to machines, a staple in SF which often depicts living beings as mere “servants to technological imperatives” (Dinello 92). The problem becomes what David E.

42 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Nye labels “technological determinism” (18). Technological determinism assumes that technology has an “inexorable logic” which makes it vastly superior to human ­decision-making (19). In “A Taste of Armaggedon,” ­A nan-7 and ­Mea-3 praise the Eminians’ subjection to technology as they argue that war has been emptied of its bad contents (destruction, disease, starvation), making it clean and sanitized. Ironically, ­A nan-7 interprets being controlled by the supercomputer as preserving Eminian culture: “Our civilization lives. The people die, but the culture goes on.” His statement is problematic: First, it disconnects culture from the “people”—after all, culture is created by people. Second, it assumes a purely positive relationship between technology and culture. This belief has been contested by, for instance, Scott Bukatman who asserts that technology constitutes a “crisis for culture” (4). Instead of preserving Eminian culture, the supercomputer subordinates culture to technological imperatives. The planet’s culture is crucially inflected by technology which determines when an attack occurs and who has to report to the disintegration chambers.6 The episode presents the decision about life and death as a prerogative of the supercomputer which indicates a profound rearrangement of social relations. The series interrogates the relationship between technologies and governance of populations by shifting biopower to the supercomputer. Biopower is usually exercised by institutions and governments which take hold of and regulate human lives (Vint, Introduction: “Science Fiction and Politics” 162). This also entails biopolitical sovereignty, defined as the “capacity to dictate who may live and who must die” (Mbembe 11). The supercomputer puts the Eminians’ lives at risk as technology takes complete hold of them through a social system in which the Eminians have lost control over the management of their own lives. The supercomputer can be read as constructing what Mbembe calls “ ­death-worlds” (39)—social systems in which “vast populations are subjected to conditions of life conferring upon them the status of living dead” (39, italics in original). The series here interrogates the relationship between technology, biopolitics, and social spaces: The fusion of technology with biopolitical governance is presented as problematic as space is no longer a site of social interactions between different actors (Lefebvre 26–27; Massey 9). Simultaneously, the supercomputer perceives spaces as unchange­ able and atemporal; i.e., it denies their relationality, heterogeneity, and changeability. It cancels out the temporality of space by assuming that conditions from 500 years ago remain unchanged, resulting in an infinite war. The problem lies in different modes of thinking employed by human beings and a computer. Cognition is a mechanical process for



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computers, in stark contrast to the complex cognitive workings of the human mind (Dinello 11). The Eminians, however, have adapted to technological forms of cognition and contemplate the simulated war as a “natural” condition which is never questioned. As Kirk emphasizes, the loss of the historical reality of physical war has led to a stagnating society in which war has been made “neat and painless.” The resolution to the episode presents human ­decision-making as a solution to the risks created by technology. The risk of a ­never-ending war imposed by technology is contained by Kirk who destroys the supercomputer. Here, the series ironically introduces the new risk of a conventional war between Eminiar and Vendikar. Star Trek episodes often narrate “a story of triumph of the individual over the impersonal forces of mechanization, of the inevitability of his physical needs and the rightness of his actions, and of the justification of violence in pursuit of both” (Tyrrell, “Star Trek’s Myth of Science” 295). Tyrrell argues that this narrative resolution ties Star Trek to the frontier myth (295). The ending of “A Taste of Armageddon” fuses a liberal humanist version of frontier individualism with Slotkin’s “regeneration through violence.” Whereas the domination of Eminian society by the supercomputer is coded as “destructive violence” (290), Kirk’s act of destruction is coded as “beneficial violence” (290). The series presents violence as the appropriate means for ending the violent subjection of the Eminians, while opening up the risk of renewed violence. The series here stages risk as potentially recursive—foreshadowing global risks in the ­t wenty-first century (Beck, World at Risk 15; Busby 73)—a strategy that also informs Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100. “The Apple” works with a similar narrative—again a supercomputer (Vaal) subjects a native people to its technological imperatives and Kirk again “solves” the risk by destroying Vaal. The episode, however, frames technological subjection and its impact on the social space(s) on Gamma Trianguli VI differently. Vaal qualifies for the SF staple image of “malevolent, ­human-dominating, ­out-of-control, artificially intelligent machines” (Dinello 89). In contrast to the mechanistic supercomputer in “A Taste for Armageddon,” Vaal is a ­self-aware artificial intelligence. Vaal is presented as a massive gray stone figure that has a reptilian head, evoking both carnivorous dinosaurs and the mythical figure of the dragon. Instead of presenting militarized technology as a risk, this framing suggests that risk emerges from the fusion of (AI) technology with an imagery of a mythical past. Karin Blair, for instance, reads Vaal as a “cosmic dragon” which needs to be slain (312). This fusion of myth and technology is explicitly tied to Christian religion. The episode’s title (“The Apple”) and the shape of the head of

44 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Vaal (which is not unlike a snake) both reference the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament. Vaal’s name also resembles Baal/Ba’al, a false god tempting the Israelites in the Bible (Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 154). By fusing religious imagery with technology, Vaal embodies what Dinello calls “Technologism” (8). Technologism contemplates technology as a God in itself (1). Dinello describes it as building its faith, devotion, and awe on the vision of a perfect future in a ­techno-heaven (8–9). In “The Apple,” technology has literally become God for the inhabitants of Gamma Trianguli VI, who are tellingly only named after the affiliation to their god (the “People of Vaal”). The episode presents Vaal as an entity that determines the social life of the inhabitants and regulates the way in which they perceive, conceive and live in their village. Their existence consists of a mindless servitude to Vaal. In dystopian SF, AIs often employ totalitarian principles of control, including surveillance and the manipulation of human behavior (Dinello 95). The series represents the People of Vaal as a ­non-thinking society, caught in a ­m aster-slave-relation. Social interactions between the members are virtually ­non-existent, except for communal ­f ruit-gathering and feeding Vaal. Not unlike “A Taste of Armageddon,” the series here constructs a “world of unselfconscious being” in which a dependency relation on technology equates a static society (Blair 312, italics in original). The series also problematizes the risky interplay between technological control and the power for making/shaping spaces. Vaal homogenizes spaces by exerting a physical influence on the planet’s ecosystems: it establishes a dampening field, absorbs the Enterprise’s power, and controls the climate. Technology here once again homogenizes spaces under a technological logic and again becomes weaponized as the AI utilizes its powers in order to retain its dominant state. This pervasiveness of technological control over spaces implicitly extrapolates from the ­real-world present in which technoscience has become ubiquitous and integrated within the very physical spaces inhabited by human societies (­Csicsery-Ronay, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction 1). The series here critiques the exaggerated reliance on and subservience to technology which is already visible today in the age of “Technopoly” (Postman 48) in which cultural and social life become increasingly subjected to technological imperatives and control (52–53).

Planetary Utopian/Dystopian Spaces Planets in Star Trek are crucially shaped by frontier utopias/dystopias. While the term “utopia” originated with Thomas More’s Utopia



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(1516), it has come to designate both an imaginary society that is located in a different space and/or time and is coded as either better (utopia, eutopia) or worse (dystopia) in comparison to the present society of the reader/viewer and as a literary/cultural genre (Sargent 9). The creation of lived utopias—in the form of intentional communities—is usually read as the result of “social dreaming”/utopianism (Sargent 3) whose goal it is to create a society that is radically different from the present society which is reflected upon (Sargent 3; Jameson xii). While “social dreaming” is based on the “desire for a better way of living” (Levitas 9), scholarship suggests that recent SF utopias also present “alternative spatialities in which fragmentation, discontinuity, and ambiguity determine the course of action” (Pordzik 18–19). This fragmentation expresses itself in terms of utopian spaces which display dystopian lived realities (Gordin, Tilley and Prakash 2; Moylan xiii– xiv; James 219–228). This often takes the form of a politically enforced “perfect” utopian society (Sargent 9) which relies on totalitarian measures of control and surveillance of the public (Claeys, Dystopia 5–7) and a ­class-based oppression which installs “utopias of the equal few based upon the oppression of the many” (Claeys, Dystopia 8). The problem often lies in a discrepancy of how space(s) are perceived, conceived and lived in by different spatial actors: While governments, institutions and powerful individuals pursue utopian agendas for organizing social/ physical spaces, the public finds itself in a “diseased, bad, faulty or unfavorable place” (4) which they experience as dystopian in their everyday lives (Gordin, Tilley and Prakash 2). In Star Trek, it is often technology that serves to create dystopian spaces. This holds true for both “A Taste of Armageddon” and “The Apple”: The subjection of people to a supercomputer/AI, the loss of individuality and the social, the suppression of independent critical thinking, the mechanization of individuals, the machines’ total control over spaces, and their representation as dominating Gods turn these planets into dystopian lived places. Both episodes rely on the “political dystopia.” Political dystopias link dystopian places to totalitarian governments and a collectivist subjection of the public under the doctrines of “relentless transparency, the repression of variety, and the curtailment of privacy” (Claeys 6). This results in conditions of slavery and totalitarian rule (11) and the suppression of sexuality (15). Dystopian spaces created by technological subjection, however, are always linked to (perspectival) utopian spaces in both episodes. While technology subjects the inhabitants of Eminiar VII and Gamma Trianguli VI to its mandates, the physical and social spaces—as seen from the vantage point of the native populations—are presented as “good places.”

46 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Often they border on perfection, an element that has been regarded as central to utopia ever since More’s Utopia.7 “A Taste for Armaggedon” articulates the Eminians’ belief that their way of life is “the better way” and Spock characterizes Eminiar VI as “highly advanced, prosperous in a material sense, comfortable […] and peaceful in the extreme.” Despite this, the utopian place is flawed both by the fact that war still exists and the Eminians’ dystopian subjection to technology. Similarly, Akuta in “The Apple” presents the planet as a utopian place where “[a]ll good comes from Vaal.” The people of Vaal live in ­self-proclaimed harmony and in a ­weather-controlled environment that furnishes them with food. Again, the utopian place comes at the expense of individuality and total submission to the imperatives of technology. Initially, the ­mise-en-scène in “The Apple” codes the planet as a utopian paradise. The camera shots and dialogue present the planet as a beautiful jungle marked by lush vegetation, comfortable temperature and highly fertile soil. This ­mise-en-scène also dominates other episodes in which alien planets are presented as a “natural” paradise.8 In most episodes, the beauty and tranquility evokes a wish to settle down—for McCoy in “The Apple,” Spock in “This Side of Paradise” and Kirk in “The Paradise Syndrome.” Character perceptions and formal means of representation code the planet in romantic terms, resonating with William Cronon’s claim that wilderness traditionally was seen as “the last remaining place where civilization, that all too human disease, has not fully infected the earth [or here alien planets]” (69). The series often fuses this ­utopian-escapist view with agricultural frontier spaces and ways of living which are perceived by their inhabitants as the realization of utopia. In “This Side of Paradise,” the Omicron Ceti III settlers reject the ­h igh-tech Federation colonies and starships. Instead, they favor a utopian agricultural community that resembles eighteenth to ­n ineteenth-century U.S. farmers in the West. Their lifestyle evokes intentional communities of the past and present, particularly of the Amish People. The Amish live in communities largely isolated from mainstream U.S. society and reject technological progress in favor of an agrarian lifestyle (Kraybill, ­Johnson-Weiner and Nolt ix).9 The philosophy of life embraced by the colonists on Omicron Ceti III similarly consists of the return to a simpler life without technologies. Moreover, they proclaim to live in “peace” and “harmony” with nature in their pastoral agricultural setting. This close resemblance between the colonists and the Amish people hinges on a representation of the planet which aligns with Turner’s idealized “farmer’s frontier” (211), providing “free land” for “the exploitation of the virgin soil” (213). The leader of the colonists emphasizes that their “perfect” community is



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based on the utopian fertility of the land. However, as in the other episodes, this utopian frontier space turns out to be a dystopia. The utopian planet and the perfect society are revealed as ­d rug-induced illusions and ultimately are rejected and destroyed as the crew convinces the inhabitants that their utopia is in need of correction and change (Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 162). While all of these episodes present the same spaces as both utopian and dystopian, “The Cloud Miners” presents utopian and dystopian spaces on Ardana as socially and physically separated. The episode contrasts Stratos, a highly technologized “cloud city,” populated by a “totally intellectual society,” with the enclosed space of the zenite mines, populated by ­hard-working Troglyte miners. Stratos seems to be a perfect utopian place of civilization: The citizens devote themselves to producing art which is displayed for everybody, High Advisor Plasus represents Stratos as a place of peace and harmony as violence has been eliminated, and Spock declares that it is “incomparably beautiful and pleasant.” Donna Spalding Andréolle argues that the utopian “ethereal city” (35) is linked to this “culture of perfection” (36). The ­mise-en-scène of the city emphasizes its status as a technological feat—Spock and Kirk admire the floating city in the sky and the artworks have been crafted with advanced technological tools. The episode contrasts this with the zenite mines on the surface. The ­mise-en-scène and lighting present them as a dark, dirty and claustrophobic place of hard work. In the tradition of the Garden Eden, Stratos is a utopian “place of play” where everyone is provided for (Blair 313), whereas the mines are defined by the hard, physical, and dangerous labor of the Troglyte miners who suffer from a gas which inhibits their cognitive development. The mines clearly fit Claeys’ definition of a dystopia as a (literally) “diseased, bad, faulty or unfavourable place” (Dystopia 4). The episode links Stratos and the mines via a social system of relations that takes the form of “utopias of the equal few based on the oppression of the many” (Claeys 8). In this form, social spaces are inflected by hierarchical relations with one group becoming subjected to another, often in a ­master-slave dialectic (11). The segregation of the Troglytes to the mines by the ­city-dwellers marks Stratos as a center of power. It also casts the mines as a secluded space of forced labor and inhuman living, evoking NS concentration camps or Bolshevik Gulags (Claeys, Dystopia 160). Not unlike in the pre–Civil War slavery system in the United States, the Troglytes’ state of subjection is tied to racial markers: Plasus and Droxine represent them as a “conglomerate of inferior species” that are “naturally” violent, diseased, and “useful” only

48 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio for mindless, physical toil in the mines. Spock later counters these racist representations by the scientific fact that both the ­city-dwellers and the Troglytes belong to the same species and that the only difference is induced by the gas. Apart from racialized relations, the social system of Stratos and the Troglytes fits the Marxist class system of production: In capitalist societies, the upper class (Bourgeoisie) and working class (Proletariat) constitute “two great hostile camps” (Marx and Engels 75). They are tied together in a system which subjects the working class to “naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” in order to increase the wealth and ­well-being of the elites (76). The Stratos ­c ity-dwellers profit from the sale of zenite, while the Troglyte miners are banned from the city and forced to live under inhospitable conditions in the mines. These unequal, oppressive relations result in a rebellion of the Troglytes who demand reforms and access to the cloud city, a process not unlike Marx and Engels’ vision of a revolution of the proletariat (83). The ending of the episode suggests a rearrangement of the social spaces on Ardana: Kirk offers the Federation’s assistance, Droxine avers that she wants to experience the mines for herself, and the leader of the Troglytes recognizes the need to end the conflict in order to construct a better society. Capitalist social relations also constitute a major concern in “The Devil in the Dark.” The episode focuses on a community on Janus VI who engage in mining pergium. In contrast to “The Cloud Miners,” the workers are represented as running their own business, reaping the financial rewards of their labor. The miners’ embrace of capitalist exploitation ties them to the “miner’s frontier” (Turner 208). The miners’ approach to the planet as something to be exploited corresponds to conventions in 1940s to 1960s SF which relied on mining imagery in order to construct outer space as a new economic frontier (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 38). While Abbott compares space mining to the capitalist exploitation of Alaska (40–43), the Janus VI mining operation evokes images of the Californian Gold Rush, especially as Chief Engineer Vanderburg calls the planet a “­t reasure-house.” The term “­t reasure-house” here codes the planet as a perfect utopian site for mining. At the same, it articulates the colonists’ perception of this space as something that needs to be exploited, motivated by the utopian dream of making profit and by corporate constraints. Still, the series questions this ­one-sided approach to space through the presence of the Horta, a ­silicon-based lifeform. The Horta perceives and lives in space differently—for the Horta the rock layers of the planet’s interior represent her habitat, she digests rock for nourishment and uses underground lairs as hatchery sites. These different perceptions



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and ways of living violently clash as the miners invade the Horta’s living space and destroy her eggs while the Horta attacks to defend her territory and offspring. The episode here not only articulates a forceful critique of capitalist frontier ideologies and ruthless exploitation but also presents space as relational and heterogeneous by contrasting the miners’ and the Horta’s perception. It questions Star Trek’s usual relationship between the Federation colonizer and alien civilizations as colonized. As noted, the series usually privileges the Federation over “primitive” alien civilizations (Kanzler 107) and casts aliens as “different by nature, and by almost always being flawed, inferior, (sexually) deviant, or somehow lacking, incomplete” (Kneis 107, italics in original).10 The episode also deviates from Star Trek’s routine logic of forcefully changing alien societies “for the better” (Kanzler 107). Instead, Kirk proposes a modus vivendi in which the miners respect the Hortas’ habitat. In return, the Hortas dig tunnels and the miners collect the raw materials and process them. This ­q uasi-symbiotic relationship, however, is undercut by Kirk’s lack of the ability to question the capitalist exploitation logic as a whole: His proposal is based on the rationale that the miners can maximize their profits by relying on the Hortas. Although the episode presents space as heterogeneous it does not establish a truly utopian alternative space as the capitalist exploitation view of the miners remains intact. The Hortas can be read as what Sherryl Vint calls an “appropriable resource” (Animal Alterity, 113– 114). Although the episode purportedly creates a multicultural utopian space, it still sets up a social hierarchy which places the Federation colonists in a higher power position than the Hortas.

A Heterogeneous “Final Frontier” Ultimately, Star Trek already anticipates ­neo-frontier ways of thinking about spaces. The frontier myth constitutes an important element of its narrative world but the construction of spaces in Star Trek, to a certain extent, renegotiates colonial constructions of space(s), engages critically with risk technologies and their effect on social/physical spaces, and presents utopia/dystopia as relational constructs. In terms of colonial spaces, Star Trek does not merely replay the frontier myth in outer space. Star Trek’s colonial spaces display what Massey calls “coexisting heterogeneity” (9). On the one hand, the series represents outer space in colonial terms: Despite departing from settler colonial notions of conquest and expansion, the Federation functions as an ideological colonizer (forcefully exploring and imposing its culture and values on alien civilizations) and its mission follows a Manifest

50 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Destiny (the liberal humanist compulsion to actualize humanity and a sense of exceptionalism). On the other hand, colonial spaces in Star Trek can be read as relational, heterogeneous, and perspectival. In episodes such as “The Immunity Syndrome” and “Spectre of the Gun” the series breaks with traditional constructions of colonial spaces and opens them up as relational and complex: The usage of viral terminology in “The Immunity Syndrome” destabilizes both the traditional spatial positions of colonizer/colonized and binaries such as open/closed, inside/outside, safe/dangerous, life/death. The simulation of a ­n ineteenth-century frontier city in “Spectre of the Gun” implicitly critiques the construction of the frontier West itself as a mythical rather than historical space. In terms of risk spaces, Star Trek constructs planets which are shaped by risk technologies, particularly by supercomputers and an artificial intelligence. Star Trek interrogates mechanistic ways of thinking through the supercomputer/AI which homogenize spaces (control over the population and ecosystems, interplanetary and interpersonal relations; as well as subjections of cultures to technological imperatives). Star Trek therefore presents technology as a risk to the construction of social and cultural spaces as technology annuls the social/cultural dimensions of space as a product that comes into being through interactions (Massey 9). As such, the construction of these ­techno-spaces interrogates the risks inherent in the contemporary ­techno-scientific present in which the social and the cultural become increasingly subjugated to the technological (Postman 48). In terms of utopia and dystopia, the series presents spaces as relational constructs which are perceived as utopian or dystopian, depending on different vantage points. On the one hand, the Eminians, the People of Vaal, the Stratos citizens and the farming community in “This Side of Paradise” code the spaces they dwell in as perfect in terms of wealth, resources, and/or a harmonic life with nature. On the other hand, these perceptions of utopia clash with dystopian lived realities of subjection and oppression by technological systems, the influence of ­m ind-altering drugs, and a segregated class system. Conceptions of space are often still tied to the utopianism underlying the frontier myth. “Paradise episodes” construct utopias of the land through ­mise-en-scène and narrative means—be it in terms of ­A mish-like lifestyles based on harvesting or mining “­t reasure-houses.” The series, however, critiques these utopias: They are revealed to be illusions (“This Side of Paradise”), are problematically marked by dystopian social relations due to capitalist exploitation ideologies which suppress working classes (“The Cloud Miners”), or undermine symbiotic relations by exploiting native lifeforms for maximizing profit (“The Devil in the Dark”). While Star



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Trek participates in processes of social dreaming that underlie the frontier myth, it also moves beyond them by constructing imagined and lived spaces as fragmented, ambiguous, and heterogeneous. The series implicitly critiques utopianism by interrogating the problematic interplay between colonialism and capitalism in a manner similar to Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100.

Reading the Frontier in Firefly Firefly (2002–2003) has only recently received critical attention with the publication of collections such as Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction at the Frontier (2008), edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and Tanya R. Cochran; Firefly Revisited: Essays on Joss Whedon’s Classic Series (2015), edited by Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith; Finding Serenity: ­Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly (2004), edited by Jane Espenson and Glenn Yeffeth; and Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon’s Firefly Universe (2007), edited by again Jane Espenson and Leah Wilson.11 Firefly has often been read as what John Wills calls a “Space Western” (2)—a hybrid between science fiction and the Western (Marek 103– 108; Wilcox and Cochran 4–7; Maio 201–211; Buckman 171–174; Telotte 151–156; Wills 1–17; Froese and Buzzard par. 1–27). Scholarship has focused on Western genre elements and their transformations in Firefly—including narrative patterns and tropes,12 ­mise-en-scène and “retrofitting” (Jowett 101), clothing, weaponry (Maio 201–211; Jowett 101–102), its use of Californian settings (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 190), and the role of folk music (Neal 192–193). As the frontier myth shapes both SF and the Western, many scholars have focused on the frontier in Firefly (Marek 103–107; Jones 230–247; Sturgis 24–38; Wills 1–17; Telotte 151–156; Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 187–201; Froese and Buzzard par. 1–27). While all agree that Firefly “­fast-forwards the old frontier into the ­t wenty-sixth century” (Wills 2), their approaches bifurcate into reading the series as either conserving the mythical frontier or transforming it in critical ways. Wills and Abbott read the Firefly universe as a copy of the frontier West and its mythology (Wills 10; Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 201). Both criticize Firefly’s use of the frontier myth as too formulaic (Wills 11, Abbott 201) and as avoiding the “greater complexities of [American] western history” (Abbott 201). In contrast, Hillary A. Jones and Amy Sturgis argue that the series transforms the frontier. Jones argues that Firefly shifts the focus away from the frontier as a spatial concept,

52 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio opening up a “liminal space between the savage and the civil, the individual and the communal, and the nostalgic western and the forwardlooking science fiction” (230, italics in original).13 She claims that Firefly presents a new progressive space, allowing for a profound rearrangement of sociopolitical relationships (241). Sturgis acknowledges that Firefly harkens back to the notion of freedom articulated by Turner (25) but maintains that the series moves beyond the frontier myth as characters display the capability to make own choices and decisions without external constraints or interventions (32) while simultaneously forging “cooperative and compassionate lives together” (33). Both Sturgis and Jones argue for a positive sociopolitical community on Serenity. Therefore, they draw attention to how Firefly engages with the frontier myth but also creates new forms of frontier spaces based on community and liminality. Jones’ and Sturgis’ arguments are indicative of a recent trend as scholars have begun to examine how the series constructs complex liminal spaces through Othering, cultural contact/cultural amalgamation (Rabb and Richardson 127–138; Brown par. 1–25; Prescott 171–189) and complex (neo)colonial economic and (bio)political relations (Jencson par. 1–53; Bussolini 139–152; Howe “Lighting Out for the Black” 139–154, Kahm 155–170; Froese and Buzzard par. 1–27). Scholars have often examined the representation of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures through the Alliance. Brown critiques that the series employs Orientalist imagery by drawing on Western stereotypes of the exoticized/ eroticized Other (par. 22–23). Nevertheless, she emphasizes that the series also breaks down distinctions between a colonial Western Self and an Eastern Other (par. 22). She argues that Firefly embraces multiculturalism and difference through incorporating courtesan culture and ­code-switching between Chinese and English (par. 18, par. 22). Tara Prescott argues that the series presents Mandarin Chinese not as an exotic othered language but a normal part of Firefly’s world (Prescott 180). Prescott reads the interaction of cultures in Firef ly as a positive multicultural future which is “vibrant, colorful, and easy” (179). Apart from this, scholars have extensively explored the representation of race, especially in discussing the Reavers. Rabb and Richardson argue that they present a modified version of stereotypical “blood-thirsty Savage Redskins” (127), Agnes B. Curry reads them as “Hollywood Indians” (par. 1), Gerry Canavan as liminal zombie figures produced by a biopolitical regime (“Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost,” 185–202), and Gareth ­H adyk-Delodder and Laura Chilcoat as posthuman figures (39). Rabb and Richardson note stereotypical



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“savage Indian” elements—­w ar-painted ships, violence, a repellent visual appearance, and cannibalism (127–128). Yet, they argue that Firefly deconstructs these stereotypes by highlighting that the Reavers’ “savagery” is the product of the Alliance’s ­self-proclaimed “civilization” (135). Gerry Canavan and Gareth ­Hadyk-Delodder/Laura Chilcoat read the Reavers as more complex than the “frontier savage.” Canavan notes that the Alliance’s biopolitical control over the lives of humans undermines its own rhetoric of “civilization.” Instead of reading the Reavers as victims, he sees them as liminal zombie figures who embody a “radically egalitarian ­c ounter-state” (Canavan “Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost,” 201, italics in original) that creates alternative modes of living and social spaces (201). ­Hadyk-Delodder and Lauren Chilcoat argue that the Reavers mediate between the human/­non-human and Self/Other (40). This liminal state allows them to break down binaries of inside/ outside and civilized/savage which inform Alliance politics (44). In terms of political and economic relations, scholars have focused on the relationships between Alliance, the Outer Rim, and Serenity. Rebecca Brown (par. 3), Gerry Canavan (“Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 180–183), Alyson R. Buckman (169), Howard Kahm (156), Jocelyn Sakal Froese and Laura Buzzard (par.1–4) all argue that Firefly operates along a colonial ­core-periphery division between the Alliance core and the border planets.14 The core consists of upper class societies, possesses a high level of technological sophistication (Canavan 181), and holds political and military control over the periphery (Froese and Buzzard par. 12). The border planets are depicted as inhabited by the impoverished working class which suffers from food shortage (Jencson par. 23–24), a lack of medical services (Kahm 162), and a limited access to technologies (Froese and Buzzard par. 2), often combined with indentured servitude or slavery (Kahm 159–161). Despite noting these relations of colonial exploitation, some scholars juxtapose this with reading Serenity itself as a utopian ­m icro-society, based on mutual respect, shared values, and familial devotion (Howe “Lighting Out for the Black” 150; Jones 241; Baggett 18–20). In conclusion, Firefly has often been read with a focus on frontier spaces but readings have also moved beyond identifying Western/frontier elements. Scholars have engaged with the complexities and interrelations of spaces in the series by taking into account revisions of the frontier myth, multiculturalism, race, and biopolitical and colonial relations but so far have not addressed how the series constructs colonial spaces, environmental spaces, spaces of risk, and utopian/dystopian spaces and how these different spaces hold the potential for articulating new ways of thinking about space.

54 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio

­Re-Envisioning the Universe: Connecting Spaces and Fragmenting Places in Firefly In contrast to Star Trek’s “Final Frontier,” Firefly constructs a complex spatial system which encompasses Alliance space, the border planets, Reaver space, “the Black” (outer space), and Serenity itself. Reading the series as constructing a spatial system allows for investigating how Firefly already signals a transition toward ­neo-frontier spaces. Firefly presents colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces as interactive, heterogeneous, relational, and constantly changing in ways that prefigure ­neo-frontier spaces in Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100.

Frontier Spaces, a Relational System of Spaces, and Rethinking “Objects in Space”: Colonial Spaces in Firefly Not unlike Star Trek, Firefly also introduces its world in 2517 in its opening sequence: After the Earth was used up we found a new solar system and hundreds of new Earths were terraformed and colonized. The central planets formed the Alliance and decided all the planets had to join under their rule. There was some disagreement on that part [i.e., an interstellar Unification War between the Alliance and the “Independents” of the outer planets who fought against governmental control].

The opening sequence establishes a colonial system of relations. The Alliance demonstrates a drive toward imperial expansion. It uses terraforming to transform uninhabitable planets and then colonizes them. Terraforming describes the process of adapting environments on planets by technologically altering their climate, atmosphere, topology, and ecology in order to make them suitable for human life (Beech 7; Pak 1). In Firefly, this process is not about an increase in power or territory but born out of necessity as Earth “was used up.” However, a typical colonial division is established by contrasting the advanced Alliance core and the “primitive” outer planets (relying on the “most basic technologies”). Interpreting Firefly in terms of a colonial ­core-periphery relation has become a staple in Firefly scholarship (Brown par. 3; Canavan “Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 180–183; Buckman 169; Kahm 156–157; Froese and Buzzard par.1–4). In fact, however, the relationship between Alliance worlds and the border planets is not a traditional



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colonial one. Colonialism entailed the forceful invasion and perpetuation of European economies and cultures into non–Western countries and the interwoven stages of “exploration, extraction of resources, expropriation and settlement of the land, [combined with] imperial administration and competition” (Rieder, Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction, 25). The Alliance functions as a colonizer by claiming, terraforming, and settling planets and by exploiting their resources but colonization does not involve an expropriation or displacement of native peoples as the planets which are terraformed are uninhabited. Lorna Jowett reads this as “a ­g uilt-free colonization scenario” (103). This authenticates the colonial belief which also underlies the Frontier Thesis, the existence of “empty lands” there for the taking (Howkins 29).15 Significantly, the violence inherent in the territorial and economic conquest of the West becomes obsolete here (Limerick 28). However, the series still ties colonization to violent conflict through the Unification War between the Alliance and the border planets. Many scholars have noted similarities to the American Civil War (Marek 105, Wilcox and Cochran 5–6, Budgen 19–35). Although the military conflict between the ­h igh-tech Alliance and the “primitive” outer planets replicates divisions between industrialized North and agrarian South, the Unification War does not restage the Civil War, especially as slavery is not at its root (Budgen 25–26). Budgen, however, argues that Firefly subscribes to the “Lost Cause” myth which cast the Confederates as heroic warriors fighting for independence, freedom, and selfdetermination against an oppressive government (27). Firefly, hence, presents a romanticized simplified conflict which deliberately erases the dark underside of slavery from American history (27–28). The series recasts the Confederates as sympathetic “Browncoats” against the oppressive violent Alliance. Violence on the part of the Alliance also manifests itself in the enforced migration of settlers. Colonial settlements always require a mass transfer of settlers from their home to the periphery (Veracini 33). In Firefly, this mass transfer is ­non-volitional as the Alliance has forced poor, ­working-class inhabitants to migrate to the outer planets. John Rieder reads the outer planets as a safety valve “literally manufactured as a place to absorb the overflow, and serve the purposes, of the center” (“American Frontiers” 174). While the Alliance takes responsibility for ensuring that the terraformed planets provide a survivable environment, settlers are unceremoniously “dumped” there and receive only “blankets, hatchets, maybe a herd” (“Serenity”). The series also suggests that side effects of terraforming have caused new diseases (“The Train

56 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Job”) and the Alliance shows little interest in ensuring the ­well-being of citizens on border planets. Consequently, the border colonies are mostly thrown back onto themselves. They constitute isolated settler colonies rather than traditional colonies which are marked by a strong administrative presence of the colonizer and strong ties to the metropolitan center (Kerslake 68; Veracini, Settler Colonialism 4–5). The relationship between the Alliance core and the border planets has often been read as ­neo-colonial in terms of economic dependency (Jencson par. 30–34; Canavan “Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 180). The core planets are marked by cities, dominated by gleaming skyscrapers, air vehicles, and giant electronic billboards on Ariel (“Ariel”) and hovering ­h igh-tech private residences on Bellerophon (“Trash”). These planets resemble the “Golden Cities” of pulp era SF (Prescott 177). The series represents them as sites of economic wealth through miseen-scène and costuming: Cities are marked by architectural feats and technological sophistication and the core worlders wear expensive and extravagant clothing in contrast to the functional clothing of the inhabitants on border planets.16 The representation of border planets signifies the working class state of their inhabitants and their function as centers of “gritty ­low-tech manufacturing” (Kahm 160). Architecture consists of wooden houses and dirt roads, with inhabitants traveling on horseback, by stagecoach, or by wagon, evoking “­n ineteenth-century conditions” (Buckman 169). However, the interstellar economic system depends on production and extraction sites located on border planets, e.g., the mud farms in “Jaynestown” or the mines in “The Train Job.” The series codes these sites as dangerous—the Paradiso miners labor in an environment which exposes them to the risk of contracting Bowden’s Malady (“The Train Job”) and the “mudders” have to work inside dirty mud lakes, lack proper protective clothing and are badly paid (“Jaynestown”). Working conditions resemble ­n ineteenth-century antebellum plantations in the U.S. South (Howe, “Lighting Out for the Black” 146). The “mudders” are indentured servants; i.e., they work for a master in return for basic amenities such as food, clothing, and lodgings (Kahm 159). They have been forced into this arrangement by their low class status and the risk of starvation (Kahm 159–161). Indentured servitude here serves to construct hierarchical power demarcations and turns the workers into objects that can be easily replaced due to an excess of labor (161). Although this suggests a ­one-sided power relation, both sides are connected, relational, and dependent on the other party. As Froese and Buzzard suggest, the Alliance relies on resources and products manufactured on the border planets (par. 13)—e.g., cargo ships contain



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ceramic parts which are produced from the mud/clay (“Jaynestown”). This dependency not only suggests a possible site of resistance for the workers but also allows for a reinterpretation of the War of Unification which was not about incorporating all planets into the “civilization” of the Alliance but about securing resources and labor power in order to sustain the ­upper-class lifestyle of the core worlds. In addition to these relations between Alliance and border planets, the series envisions a third alternative economic space—defined by individual criminals, ­Mafia-esque syndicates, and criminal networks— made possible by the Alliance’s lack of administrative institutions and strong governance structures. These circles are represented by Badger on Persephone (“Serenity,” “Shindig”) and Adelai Niska who runs his own syndicate (“The Train Job,” “War Stories”). They can be read as a “world of egotism, deception, betrayal” (Sobolev 89) that operates by “negative reciprocity” (Jencson par. 11). Negative reciprocity entails that “each party tries their best to get the advantage of the other party; all profits derive from taking advantage” (Jencson par. 11). Kahm argues that this crime sector essentially replicates the economic relations between core and periphery (157–158): In both cases, a powerful elite makes profit by exploiting others—be it by exploiting working classes or by smuggling and stealing forbidden goods in order to sell them for huge profits on the black market. While these relations between the Alliance and the border planets are important, the series in fact negotiates several spaces—Alliance space (core), the periphery border planets, Reaver space, the “Black” (outer space) and Serenity as a space in itself as well as an object that moves between the other spaces. The series presents these spaces not as clearly bordered/separated but as transgressive and interactive. This becomes clear in “Serenity.” The camera introduces the Serenity crew which conducts an illegal salvage operation in the Black. The operation is disturbed by the arrival of an Alliance cruiser. As Jayne remarks, the presence of the Alliance in the Black is both unexpected and unusual. Later, the crew encounters a Reaver vessel, is chased by it, and finally manages to outmaneuver it in the atmosphere of Whitefall (a border planet). As this short synopsis shows, from its very beginnings, Firefly highlights the tenacity of borders which are constantly crossed: The Alliance sends vessels into the Black and to border planets, border planets send goods and products to Alliance core worlds, the Reavers invade border planets and Alliance worlds, and Serenity navigates all spaces by moving through the Black to reach border planets (“Serenity,” “The Train Job,” “Jaynestown,” “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” “The Message,” “Safe”) and core planets (“Ariel,” “Trash,” “Shindig”). Despite the

58 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio striking differences between these five spaces all of them remain interconnected. This system presents colonial spaces as relational, interconnected, and changeable as they are constantly constructed anew in a negotiation between the Serenity crew, the Alliance, the border planet inhabitants, the crime lords, and the Reavers. The Black connects all other spaces in the spatial system. Not unlike the “Final Frontier” in Star Trek, it has often been read as a stand-in for the frontier (Wills 2, Froese and Buzzard par. 2). I contend that it can be more usefully read in terms of “contact zone[s],” meeting places in which different cultures encounter and struggle against each other and in which hierarchies and power relations become established (Pratt 4). The Black is codified in the series’ theme song “The Ballad of Serenity.” The lyrics code the Black as a realm of freedom outside of the oppressive regime of the Alliance (“You can’t take the sky from me”). They set up the lifestyle of the Serenity crew in the Black: “fighting for survival on a brutal new frontier and scraping together a living, profoundly distrustful of authority” (Baggett 10). By introducing the Black as a realm of freedom, the song aligns with the escapist logic of Turner’s frontier. The frontier, for him, constituted a space that was physically and ideologically set apart from Eastern forms of civilization (206). This isolated position allowed for a “perennial rebirth” (200) and for settlers to establish a “democracy born of free land, strong in selfishness and individualism, intolerant of administrative experience and education, and pressing individual liberty beyond its proper bonds” (223). This romanticized view of the frontier as a space of freedom clearly informs Mal’s perception of the Black. He wants to make sure that his crew “feels the need to be free” (“Out of Gas”). This need can only be fulfilled in the Black and Mal ties living in the Black to the necessity of movement, not unlike the restlessness of the pioneer (Turner 215): “[N]o matter how long the arm of the Alliance might get, we’ll just get ourselves a little further” (“Out of Gas”). The (perceived) freedom of the Black is hence tied to a “narrative of continual movement” (Howe, “Lighting Out for the Black” 140), with Serenity only stopping briefly on planets and space stations in order to pick up jobs. Interestingly, the series breaks with this image by juxtaposing various perceptions of the Black. While Mal sees the Black as a realm of freedom, Simon—a former ­upper-class Alliance citizen—initially rejects the isolationism which comes with traveling through the Black which he derogatively refers to as “the ass end of the galaxy” (“Safe”). For the Alliance, the Black is marked by a lack of political, military, and social control; it constitutes a space in which illegal salvage operations and smuggling threaten its power. In “Serenity,” the Alliance



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commander characterizes the Black as the realm of “­low-life vultures picking flesh of the dead.” This comment conceptualizes the Black as a wilderness marked by lawlessness, violence, and danger, aligning both with Turner’s claim that wilderness presents a danger and needs to be “won” (201) and the Biblical view of wilderness as a wasteland marked by the absence of God and the presence of sin (Cronon 71). Fred Erisman proposes a different reading of the Black as “an airless realm where the slightest failure of human effort can bring lingering (and often instant) death” (226). He analyzes “Out of Gas” in which a part of Serenity’s engine explodes and the life support system fails, exposing the crew to the risk of freezing to death or asphyxiation. The episode juxtaposes the mythical frontier with the physical reality of outer space which is only survivable for humans by relying on complex technological systems. As these examples demonstrate, the Black is not only a perspectival construct but qualifies for what Massey calls “coexisting heterogeneity” (9): It is a realm of freedom and a realm of isolation and a realm of lawlessness and a realm of danger for the human body at the same time. As such, the Black counters the rather reductive SF coding of outer space as a static “Final Frontier.” Outer space in Firefly functions as a complex construct which reflects the indeterminacy of space itself as something that is “constantly waiting to be determined (and therefore always undetermined) by the construction of new relations” (Massey 107). Operating within the Black, Serenity presents an alternative space to the other spaces of the spatial system and it destabilizes the traditional relationship between mobility and community of the frontier myth and the SF frontier. Alyson Buckman identifies a central paradox: “The ship as home enables a sense of community and domesticity even as it provides a mobility that simultaneously conjures exile and migration” (177). It constitutes a generative social space, with individuals leading “cooperative and compassionate lives together” (Sturgis 33) based on mutual respect, the belief in free choice and freedom, and familial devotion (Howe, “Lighting Out for the Black” 150; Jones 241; Baggett 18–20) but simultaneously connotes “exile and migration” (Buckman 177) as the mobility of the ship is not completely volitional: The necessity for movement signifies the social status of the crew as outsiders. Serenity is not a realization of the frontier myth but can be read as a critical reflection on the complexity of social frontier spaces. Massey claims that space is always “the product of interrelations; as constituted through interactions” (Massey 9): The ship is not just imagined and enacted through interactions and interrelations of the crew but is shaped by its outsider position within the spatial system—a position in which mobility presents both an opportunity and a burden.

60 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Lastly, Reaver space complicates SF frontier thinking through destabilizing processes of Othering. Reaver space is located on the outer limits of the Black beyond the Alliance and border planets but Reaver ships often probe into these spaces. The series presents Reavers as former humans who have become instinctual, highly aggressive beings. Rabb and Richardson read them as ­stand-ins for the “ ­blood-thirsty Savage Redskins” of the Western (127) as they engage in “savage” behavior, apply ­war-paint to their vessels, and lack a philosophy of their own (127–129). Throughout Firefly, the crew never directly comes in contact with the Reavers despite encountering their vessels (“Serenity”) and aiding a ship that they have attacked (“Bushwhacked”). The Serenity crew represents the Reavers as an abject Other which is marked by violent practices such as rape, skinning victims, and killing (“Serenity”). Hence, they are considered to be ­non-human (“Bushwhacked”). This representation fits the Reavers into the SF staple of the Other as a simplified, exoticized adversary that threatens the survival of the heroes’ selves (Kerslake 19). This Other usually lacks the ability to speak as the capacity for communication would enable a revision of this fixed image (11) and “illustrates difference as threat” (13), a stance which underpins the representation of the Reavers. However, this representation is destabilized both through discussions between characters and through the spatial system itself. As Mal points out: “Reavers ain’t men. Or they forgot how to be. Now they’re just nothing. They got out to the edge of the galaxy, to that place of nothing, and that’s what they became” (“Bushwhacked”). Mal’s comment is noteworthy for two points. First, his concession that Reavers might be human beings who “forgot” what it means to be human destabilizes the binary between human and ­non-human which seems to provide a stable division in human Self (the crew) and abject, monstrous Other (the Reavers). Second, Mal ties the Reavers’ “Otherness” not to race but to their spatial position at “the edge of the galaxy.”17 As Gerry Canavan argues, both the Serenity crew and the Reavers embody a “life outside [the] biopolitical state control” (“Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 184) of the Alliance. Both operate outside the governance structures of the Alliance and are in turn “othered” by the Alliance. The aforementioned comment by an Alliance commander that the crew of Serenity are “­low-life vultures, picking flesh off the dead” verbally parallels the representation of the Reavers as cannibals. Therefore, the series lays bare the fluidity of “Otherness”: It posits that Othering is always dependent on one’s perspective and it complicates geographical divisions associated with “Otherness.” Although the spaces of the Alliance, the Serenity crew, and the Reavers seem to be clearly bordered, following a



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civilization/savagery dualism, the series highlights how both “savagery” and “civilization” are always relational and interconnected instead of being attributable to specific spaces. Moreover, the series unhinges its representation of the Reavers as a traditional SF Other by showing them as possessing a culture of their own. Mal declares that the Reavers have “no philosophy” (“Bushwhacked”). This strategy of representation aligns with the frontier binaries of civilized/savage and culture/nature and participates in racialized codings of the Other as “­culture-less,” driven by uncontrolled emotions and biological instincts (Hall, “The Spectacle of the Other” 243). However, Mal tells Simon that the Reavers will hunt Serenity because it is “their way.” In addition to hunting, the Reavers ­w ar-paint their ships, they remove the containment of the reaction core of their ships in order to seem threatening (“Serenity”), use booby traps to catch other ships (“Bushwhacked”), and engage in practices of scalping, raping, and systematic killing. All of these practices go beyond instinctual actions; they imply agency, volition, and cultural traditions. Hence, the Reavers possess a culture of their own. Apart from the spatial system in Firefly, the series devotes an entire episode (“Objects in Space”) to challenging established ways of perceiving, conceiving, and living in space. Scholars have argued that the episode engages with existentialism (Wilcox 158; Baggett 12), especially about how meaning is attributed to objects and spaces (Wilcox 158– 159; Baggett 12–15). The episode focuses on how spaces are produced and constructed from a human perspective. Space is a perspectival construct which depends on personal modes of perception (Fluck 25). The human mind processes impressions which the body receives via sensory organs and then makes sense of them by employing an “organizing principle” which imbues what is seen with meaning (25). Winfried Fluck calls for approaching the representation of space as an “aesthetic object” (26), a “form of representation that has the freedom to redefine and transform reality or even to invent it anew” (26, italics added). “Objects in Space” turns space into an “aesthetic object,” experienced differently by River Tam and bounty hunter Jubal Early. Both employ their own “organizing principles” to make sense of space(s) and engage in ways of thinking that move beyond the SF frontier. River, who has been the victim of a ­brain-altering experiment by Alliance scientists, perceives space in a unique way. She can “cross between worlds and between representations: corporeal, discursive, and symbolic” (Perdigao 53). The series emphasizes that she has a corporeal connection to Serenity: River is moving through the ship on her bare feet and is constantly touching the walls of the corridor in order to connect to

62 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio the ship. She does not take the ship for granted, but feels the need to encounter the ship on its own terms and not according to a relationship of colonial mastery or notions of property. While the rest of the crew also forms emotional bonds with Serenity, their relation to the ship is marked by ­property-thinking (Mal often refers to Serenity as “my ship” or “my boat”) and/or human functionalization: They value the ship due to its functionality as a means of transportation, its state as a space of freedom, and the protection it provides against the Reavers, the Alliance, and outer space. River’s perception of space unhinges this more traditional SF frontier thinking. The series uses her perspective to ­re-conceptualize the ship in terms of the realization that “[o]rdinary objects, events, and places lack any intrinsic meaning or import, so there is no meaning to be discovered” (Baggett 11). Space has no intrinsic meaning but acquires meanings by human beings who construct it through their “ordering principles.” For instance, River recodes the cargo bay through her imagination: A ­h igh-angle extreme long shot adopts her perspective as the cargo bay is suddenly filled with leaves and branches. River gleefully picks up a branch. The scene is disturbed by a sudden panning to the shocked faces of the crew, and a quick panning back to River reveals that she is actually holding a loaded gun. River explains: “It’s just an object. It doesn’t mean what you think” (“Objects in Space”). Baggett reads this scene as an existentialist comprehension of the malleability of the function of objects (12–13). At the same time, the scene also emphasizes the malleability of space through perceptions and therefore questions ordinary ways of conceiving and perceiving space as something fixed and given. Apart from this existentialist perspectivism, the episode destabilizes traditional colonial SF relationships between humans and technological spaces through presenting characters as reflecting on the constructed-ness of space. Bounty hunter Early muses on how meaning is attributed to spaces when he interrogates Simon about the whereabouts of River: EARLY:  So is it still her room [= River’s] when it’s empty? Does the room, the thing have purpose? Or do we … what’s the word…. SIMON:  I really can’t help you. EARLY:  The plan is to take your sister, get the reward, which is substantial. “Imbue.” That’s the word.

Similarly to River, Early does not take space for granted. The series here interrogates how language functions as a means to attribute meanings to space: The room belongs to River but on a physical basis it is just a



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room until it is used by a human being for a defined purpose. The series emphasizes the malleability and fluidity of space. It only becomes meaning ful through humans “imbuing” it with meanings which can differ or lose their validity, depending on one’s perspective. Early’s observation can be read as an implicit critique of SF frontier mythical thinking which relies on a fixed approach to space. In fact, however, the human construction of space through language in itself is perspectival and relational instead of a universal process. Moreover, the ship can be read as a lived space in which the human and the technological are no longer distinct but form parts of an integrated system. Early identifies the spinning engine as the “beating heart” which preserves the ship and crew. Early’s anthropomorphization of the ship and the fact that Serenity’s ship class is named after and shaped in the resemblance of a firefly (Hager 185) suggest a breakdown of borders between humans and ­non-human spaces/objects. Both the crew and the ship form “an interrelated system, a family that includes the animate and the inanimate” (Hager 187). This integrated system can be read as a posthuman environment, envisioned by N. Katherine Hayles as a “dynamic partnership between humans and intelligent machines [which] replaces the liberal humanist subject’s manifest destiny to dominate and control nature” (288). Presenting Serenity as a posthuman environment allows for a revision of conventional SF frontier spaces in which technology indicates the “progress” of human civilization, a stance in line with the humanist underpinnings of the frontier myth (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 173). The episode engages in a further renegotiation between the human and technological spaces when River purportedly transcends her body and fuses with the ship. This shift in the relation between River and the ship—from her need for a material connection toward the immaterial disembodiment of her mind as the ship—seems to signify a transhumanist approach to space. River’s fusion with the ship extrapolates from her need to connect to the ship. Her earlier connection depended on a physical connection which now seems to be lost. In contrast to transhuman dreams of transcending the human body altogether (Moravec 112), Firefly does not present disembodiment as an ideal relation between human beings and technological spaces. The final twist of the episode reveals that River has not actually merged with the ship. The episode’s conclusion reaffirms the necessity for a physical body in order to experience, perceive, conceive, and live in space. River embraces a posthuman relationship to space, one in which the human body and the capacities for ­meaning-making of the human mind are always ­co-extensive, resonating with Hayles’ claim that “human life is embedded in a material

64 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio world of great complexity, on which we depend for our continued survival” (5). “Objects in Space” therefore challenges established ways of thinking about space and attributing meaning to it: On the one hand, the episode presents space as heterogeneous through a relational perspectivism, it destabilizes functional purposes of space (River’s recoding of a gun as a branch, Early’s comments on language), and establishes a symbiotic relationship between humans and technological spaces. On the other hand, it reaffirms a humanist need for embodiment, a prerequisite for rethinking the human relation to space. Perdigao argues that the episode allows for a “better understanding of the interplay between bodies in space” (61). In fact, the episode also fundamentally rethinks the interplay between bodies and space(s).

The ­Wilderness-Civilization Binary and the Universe as Ecosystem: Environmental Spaces in Firefly Firefly juxtaposes three different relationships between humans and environmental spaces: First, a relationship of respect for nature by farming communities on the border planets, second, a structure of sustenance economy and industrial production sites on the border planets, and third, a complete transformation or eradication of natural spaces on Alliance planets. The border planets can be read in terms of a sustainability relation which counters SF frontier codings of wilderness. Sustainability refers to human ways of life which adapt themselves to “the context given us by nature, destroying as little as possible” (Cobb, Jr., 191). The border planets are defined by different environments, including open, dry deserts (“Heart of Gold”), swamps (“Jaynestown”), sagebrush hills and mesas (“Serenity,” “The Train Job”), forests (“Safe”), and mountain ranges (“The Message”). These spaces are marked, perceived, and lived in by their inhabitants as natural spaces which fit the traditional American view of wilderness as “the last remaining place where civilization, that all too human disease, has not fully infected the earth” (Cronon 69). In contrast to frontier mythology in which wilderness presents a danger and needs to be transformed (Turner 201), the border planet inhabitants are content with only adapting a small part of their worlds for their own sustenance and show respect for nature. For instance, the farming community in “Our Mrs. Reynolds” works the land in order to sustain itself and their production is dependent on natural weather patterns. Therefore, the representation of frontier spaces here indicates the



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interdependency of the human and the ­non-human in a ­non-capitalist, non-exploitative relationship based on sustainability principles. These representations of local sustainability are, however, limited by interplanetary economic systems, a state which critically reflects on the historical frontier. Most border planets function as resource suppliers for Alliance worlds. This necessitates the presence of invasive machinery, e.g., for drilling in “The Train Job” or for refining mud in “Jaynestown.” All of these activities repeat the same catastrophic procedures that have led to the resource exhaustion of ­E arth-that-was. This economic system does not draw a lesson from the past which could have led to an environmental recognition of the interconnectedness between human beings and ecosystems which they are part of (Otto 24–25; Plumwood 9). Instead, it forces settlers to establish and/or support exploitative industries which strain the ecological equilibrium of the outer planets while subjugating environmental concerns to making profit. This ­set-up critically reflects on historical frontier spaces which were not so much sites for regeneration and a return to “nature” but rather means toward economic exploitation and conquest (Limerick 28). The construction of border planets and core planets ultimately both establishes but also challenges the wilderness/civilization binary. Core planets such Ariel, Persephone, and Bellerophon are represented as highly technologized urban spaces which are marked by “alienation, sterility, the manufactured or artificial” (Jowett 101). Ariel is a giant “bright shining metropolis,” consisting of skyscrapers, air transport and electronic advertisement screens (Prescott 177). Essentially, they are planet-wide cities which contrast starkly with “wilderness” of the border planets. This representation replicates mythical dualisms of wilderness/ civilization and nature/culture. In Turner’s Thesis, wilderness stands opposite to “the complexity of city life” (199) which is shaped by industries and factories (207). As environmental philosopher Ingrid Leman Stefanovic notes, cities have for a long time functioned as “baleful, concrete dens of ecological iniquity” (11). In her article “In Search of a Natural City” she distinguishes between the “natural city” (11) and artificial cities (24). Artificial cities are marked by feelings of disorientation, confusion, stress, apprehension, wasteful technologies, and ­non-ecological economies which foster feelings of ­not-belonging (24). In Firefly, characters feel alienated from core cities because they are “spotless” (“Ariel”) and the extreme long shots which introduce Ariel (“Ariel”) and Persephone (“Serenity”) emphasize their artificiality, i.e., their technological and architectural ­constructed-ness. In “Serenity,” a ­h igh-angle extreme long shot presents the harbor area on Persephone as an intricate maze

66 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio of buildings, stacked containers, and shipyards, all of which convey a sense of disorientation and confusion. Moreover, the representation of core planets suggests a state in which culture has conquered nature. The series presents them as sites of “high culture,” i.e., that which qualifies as “the best that has been thought or said [or created]” (Hall, “Introduction” 1), including “literature, painting, music and philosophy” (2) but also culinary culture. When Wash asks Inara about major tourist sites, Inara lists famous museums and the “finest restaurants in the Core” (“Ariel”). This “high culture” is highly valued by the upper class citizens, as evidenced by Durran Haymer who collects precious cultural artifacts in his hovering residence on Bellerophon (“Trash”). The items on display include the “original ­hand-held laser pistol”; expensive paintings; and an intricately painted vase. All of these objects turn the room into a (private) museum, displaying the achievements of the “high culture” of the Alliance (“Trash”). In contrast to this omnipresence of “high culture,” natural spaces are markedly absent. The focus of the camera highlights the artificiality of the environment—metallic skyscrapers, air transport vessels, and electronic billboards. In the rare cases in which ­u n-built environments are shown, natural spaces have been replaced by artificial gardens which are marked by a strict regulation of nature—the carefully trimmed meadow and hedges in Haymer’s Bellerophon Estate in “Trash,” the single trees lining a balcony on Persephone (“Serenity”), and the abundance of bonsai trees in Magistrate Higgins’ courtyard in “Jaynestown.” All of these examples suggest that the core worlds are not ecologically sustainable environments. Their inhabitants embrace a ­human-nature divide which values human culture while locating “human life outside of and above an inferiorised and manipulable nature” (Plumwood 4). As such, this emphasis on the dominance of human culture over nature can be read as an implicit critique of rationalistcapitalist ways of thinking about natural spaces which are still engrained in contemporary SF frontier fiction. While the representation of the core worlds critiques capitalist thinking, the spatial system of Firefly presents a relational system rather than the colonial replication of a wilderness/civilization dualism. The interconnections and dependencies between Alliance and border planets partially destabilize the binaries of civilization/wilderness and city/ nature. As Lehan notes, both the binaries of “city” and “wilderness” are mutually interdependent: Historically, “[t]he city brought the wilderness into being, creating separate identities for life on the land versus life in the city, identities that then became the basis for an idea of self ” (67). The core planet inhabitants can only conserve their upper class



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identity and their ­h igh-cultural, technological spaces in opposition to the wilderness of the border planets. The spatial system functions like a complex ecosystem in itself. As Neil Evernden notes, an ecosystem entails “a genuine intermingling of parts” that do not function as separate entities but are related and connected to each other in order for the system to function properly (93, italics in original). The spatial system of Firefly depends on all of its spaces and inhabitants—the wilderness and production sites on border planets and the urban, technologized core planets and the space and crew of Serenity and Reaver territories—in order to work. The Alliance core and the border planets remain interdependent in their economic system of production, their class system, and their definitions of Self (Froese and Buzzard par. 13). Serenity presents a quintessential part in the spatial system as the smuggling activities of the crew sustain the relationship between core planets and border planets, with the crew delivering much needed goods to deprived settlers which keeps them from rebelling against the Alliance (Lackey 67; Kahm 165–166). The ship therefore metaphorically represents what Evernden calls an “­i ndividual-in-environment” (97): The ship and its crew constitute a component of the spatial (eco)system of the series instead of operating outside of it.

Technology as/and Risk and the Construction of Riskscapes in Firefly In contrast to Star Trek in which single risks constitute problems, Firefly constructs complex riskscapes. Firefly takes ­E arth-that-was as the prerequisite for its narrative world. As ­Müller-Mahn highlights, Earth in the ­t wenty-first century constitutes “the arena for the overlapping of multiple risks” (xviii). In Firefly, ­Earth-that-was is marked by the environmental risks of overpopulation and global resource exhaustion. Firefly’s engagement with this riskscape remains tangential as both risks lie in the narrative past. What becomes important is the risk management procedure which the Alliance adopted. Instead of developing “green” technologies or embracing what Ursula Heise calls an “­eco-cosmopolitanism” (59),18 the Alliance opts for a technological fix by terraforming planets and moons. The Alliance’s risk management can be read in terms of what Ulrich Beck calls “[p]rimary scientization” (Beck, Risk Society 155). This system of thought dominated Western societies from the eighteenth up to the ­m id-twentieth century (155). Primary scientization places science and technology into an authoritarian position for risk management, guided by “an unbroken faith in

68 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio science and progress” (155). Risks are seen as calculable and fixable by advances in technology and the sciences. This can be tied to a belief in rationalism, a way of thinking which “promote[s] distance from, control of and ruthlessness towards the sphere of nature as the Other” (Plumwood 4). In Firefly, the beliefs in the supremacy of science, technology, and rationalism function as a rationale for the Alliance’s terraforming and for installing the system of Alliance core planets and border planets as a response to overpopulation and resource exhaustion. Through the lens of the Alliance, terraforming is framed as a positive technological risk management. It promises a solution to overpopulation and resource exhaustion: New planets function as reservoirs for the overflow of population from the core planets, while also providing new means for extracting resources (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 174). This representation extrapolates from current positive views of terraform­i ng: For instance, astronomer Martin Beech claims that terraforming would create a “better, less crowded, more fulfilled, more productive, and healthier future for billions of people” (Beech 7–8). Similarly, the Alliance contemplates terraforming as a solution to risks and equates it with the creation of new utopias. While the terraformed planets seem to allow for a utopian “starting over,” they ironically mirror the same risky processes that have led to terraforming in the first place. Beech warns that terraforming must carry with it an environmental awareness for not repeating past mistakes, particularly of humans perceiving themselves as “disconnected operator[s]” of planets who aim at exploiting resources (11). Chris Pak argues that terraforming allows for settlers to reassess their historical relationship with Earth and develop alternative modes of living in and with new ecosystems (7). In Firefly, however, this is not the case as terraforming becomes a means to establish new exploitative industrial systems, e.g., mud farms (“Jaynestown”) and mines (“The Train Job”). Instead of learning from the past, the series presents the Alliance as opening up the very same risks by establishing new industrial frontiers. This implicitly critiques ­colonial-capitalist thinking as an appropriate approach to managing risks. Moreover, the series stages terraforming as producing new risks. Beck points out that science and technology today no longer can be seen as unambiguous “saviors” providing fixes to risks but create “new unpredictabilities” (World at Risk 15) in the process of managing risks (Beck, Risk Society 155–156; Beck, World at Risk 15). In “The Train Job,” “new unpredictabilities” arise as a ­by-product of terraforming which put the population of Paradiso at risk. The terraformed atmosphere has unexpectedly interacted with the ore processors in the mines, producing



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Bowden’s Malady, a highly contagious degenerative ­b one-and-muscle disease (“The Train Job”). The series here unhinges terraforming from its positive coding by the Alliance as the terraformed planet presents an existential danger to the population rather than an opportunity to “start over.” The series also interrogates the relationship between risk management and political systems of governance. The Alliance’s risk management functions as a means for biopolitically controlling populations by distributing “risk positions.” The Alliance delivers a medicine which does not cure the disease but merely counteracts its symptoms. Froese and Buzzard argue that the Alliance’s risk management is inextricably bound to the execution of biopower and economic imperatives (par. 10–16). While the Alliance delivers medicine to keep the production going, it does not rectify the problem or explore alternatives such as relocating the miners or developing a cure (par. 13). The Alliance codes the colonists as expendable “waste” (par. 13)—they possess value for their productive capacity but not for their status as human beings despite being citizens of the Alliance (par. 13). The problem here becomes of who defines risks and the appropriate ways of managing them. The Alliance distributes what Beck calls “social risk positions” (Risk Society 23). Risk positions establish a winner-losersystem (23) which “enable[s] powerful actors to maximize risk for ‘others’ and minimize risks for ‘themselves’” (Beck, “Living in the World Risk Society” 333). The Alliance spatializes risk positions by maximizing risks for the border planets while minimizing risks for the core. In contrast to the Rim, Alliance planets are equipped with ­state-of-the-art hospitals, ­well-stocked med vaults and ­h ighly-skilled physicians (“Ariel”). As Jencson and Canavan separately note, the Alliance’s spatial system extrapolates from economic power relations today between the Western “First World” and the “Global South”/“Third World” (Jencson par. 4, Canavan, “Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 181). This relation, however, is not purely economic or colonial (as Jencson and Canavan suggest), but is marked by a crucial distribution of risk and defining the outer planets as “losers” which are exposed to risks instead of being safeguarded from them. The series also presents technology as a risk in itself. In contrast to the machine takeover scenarios in Star Trek, Firefly focuses on risks which emerge from the use of technology. As several scholars point out, technology is not inherently risky but only becomes a risk by human usage and values and purposes attributed to it by human actors (Tiles and Oberdiek 14–16, Nye 21). In a U.S. American context, the development and use of technologies has often been tied to corporations and

70 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio the military who have an interest in weaponizing technologies for warfare, therefore posing a risk to the ­well-being of humans (Dinello 2–4). In Firefly, technology also becomes a risk to individuals as Alliance scientists, the Blue Sun Corporation, and the military take hold of citizens’ lives in order to experiment on them (“The Train Job,” “Ariel”). A paradigmatic example is seen in the secret experiments on River Tam which aim at creating a “super soldier.”19 The experiments are shown in a flashback in “The Train Job.” The scene emphasizes the violent penetration of River’s body by invasive technology—red cables are inserted into her temples and a metallic device is beginning to drill into her head, all while she is forcefully strapped into a chair. Metallic devices fix her body in place, evoking images of medieval torture chairs. This dystopian mise-en-scène codes the use of technology as a risk to the ­well-being of human beings. The representation of technology here functions as a means to objectify River.20 For the Alliance, River—and, by extension, all citizens under their rule—function as biocapital, a state in which life becomes property and can be “modified” according to dominant political, scientific, and corporate interests (Vint, “Introduction” 164). River’s case indicates how social spaces between Alliance and its citizens are inflected by objectifying power relations. Moreover, the biopolitical regime of the Alliance significantly also extends to core world citizens and not only the populations of the Rim. Therefore, risk redefines the social spaces between border planets and core planets along a biopolitical power continuum in which economistic/militaristic ways of thinking and control over technology blot out social aspects of ­space-making as Alliance citizens are turned into powerless objects. River can be read as a critical reflection on the nature of technoscientific risks in the ­t wenty-first century. As Perdigao notes, “she is intuitive and cerebral, a psychic, and she is also corporeal, a programmed body that is capable of causing violence and destruction to others” (64). ­Hadyk-Delodder and Chilcoat locate a posthuman state of empowerment and read her (body) as a positive destabilization of the human (41). This point is certainly valid as her programming allows for her to trick Jubal Early in “Objects in Space” and to dispose of enemies in “War Stories.” However, this programming also presents a constant risk to the crew as she is mentally unstable—she attacks Jayne with a knife in “Ariel,” implies that she can kill with her mind in “Trash,” and her modified sensory perception allows her to see a harmless branch while she is training a pistol on her crewmates (“Objects in Space”). In a sense, River physically embodies risks associated with the use of technologies. The danger of contemporary ­techno-scientific risks lies in that



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they exist under “the conditions of manufactured, ­self-inflicted insecurity” or manufactured uncertainty (Beck, World at Risk 8). River herself is a manufactured uncertainty, ­techno-scientifically “produced” by the Alliance, uncontainable and uncontrollable for both the Alliance and the Serenity crew. River’s body plays on the human responsibility for producing technological risks as well as on the human incapability to control/manage these very risks—an irony that lies at the heart of the world risk society (Beck, “Living in the World Risk Society” 329).

Complex and Relational “­No-Places”: Utopian/Dystopian Spaces in Firefly Many elements discussed so far construct Firefly’s universe as a dystopian “bad place”—the unethical experiments by Alliance scientists/corporations, relations of indentured servitude and capitalist exploitation, the Alliance’s coding of populations as “expendable” or “waste,” and the spatial segregation of classes (core planets vs. border planets). Many scholars have read these conditions as dystopian (Marek 99–120; Magill 82; Sutherland and Swan 89–100; Canavan, “Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 173–203). Instead, my focus lies on three specific dystopian and/or utopian spaces which become important for how the series engages with frontier utopias/dystopias: (a) Alliance core planets, (b) the dystopian spaces created by criminal networks operating in the Black and on border planets, and (c) Serenity and its crew as an intentional community. The Alliance has often been identified as a dystopian institution: Marek refers to it as a “dystopian parliament” (112) which divides the rich and the poor and Magill reads it as a “­m ilitary-industrial patriarchy” which executes restrictive laws, extracts resources, and subjects women to male rule and dominance (82). Sutherland and Swan provide an extensive list of major contemporary dystopian themes which underpin the Alliance in Firefly: state control of economic activity; social stratification, often including rationing or food shortages for some parts of the population; militarized police forces; the state’s insistence that “outlaws” are causing problems through their own actions; and state propaganda and control of education [91–92].

All of these elements code the Alliance and spaces controlled by it in terms of the political dystopia. This form is dominated by extreme coercion, groupism (a homogenization of the society’s identity), an obsession with social purity and perceived enemies (sociogermophobia),

72 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio and enforced “equality” of all citizens (Claeys, Dystopia 56–57).21 I contend that the core planets can more usefully be read as an intriguing mixture of utopian and dystopian spaces. In “Ariel,” Wash and Zoe talk about leisure activities on Ariel and code core planets as “bad places”: WASH:  We’ll just go to a park or something, feed the pigeons. ZOE:  Sure, we’ll feed the pigeons … probably get the firing squad for littering. […] It’s a Core planet. It’s spotless, there’s sensors everywhere, and where there ain’t sensors, there’s Feds.

The dialogue equates core planets with the Alliance which is perceived as a totalitarian regime. It presents the Alliance as controlling social spaces by the constant induction of an atmosphere of fear of punishment for even minor transgressions which the ­political-administrative apparatus deems a serious “crime” to be punished by execution. Totalitarian regimes instrumentalize fear in order to keep societies under control and to maintain their power position (Claeys 113). In this case, fear is heightened by constant surveillance as there are both armed forces and sensors which monitor the population. As Hannah Arendt notes, totalitarian systems aim at creating “atomized, isolated individuals” (323) which are tied to the social system through a relation of “total, unconditional, and unalterable loyalty” (323). Here, surveillance ensures loyalty: The omnipresence of surveillance atomizes and isolates citizens under the persistent controlling gaze of the Alliance. At the same time, surveillance functions as a political means for creating a homogenized space. As Edward Soja points out, space is always political as “relations of power and discipline are inscribed into the apparent, innocent spatiality of social life” (Postmodern Geographies 6). In this case, relations of power and discipline work to subject citizens into a social way of life which conforms with the totalitarian system. Paradoxically, these ­desired-for effects of surveillance cancel themselves out: While surveillance is supposed to foster uniformity and community, it works by creating isolated, atomized individuals—it fractures the very community that it seeks to create.22 The series’ representation of surveillance also reflects on post–9/11 American politics. With Firefly airing in 2002, the Alliance can be read as extrapolating from the political and legal consequences of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., in 2001. The attacks led to the intensification of a “surveillance culture that uses all forms of information technology […] to watch out for external and internal threats in the name of securing the safety of its citizens” (Wildermuth 3). While the Alliance cannot justify its surveillance culture as a response to a terrorist attack, it employs similar methods of defining “external and



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internal threats.” ­Post-9/11 politics focused on constructing the Middle East, Muslims, and Al Qaeda as enemies to the United States, epitomized by President Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil” designation (Wildermuth 2, 7–8). Similarly, the Alliance constructs “­low-life vultures” such as the Serenity crew as ­stand-ins for post–9/11 terrorists. In fact, the Serenity crew’s illegal “terrorist” acts have only a minor impact on the Alliance’s political and economic system as a whole. Nevertheless, the imagined threat of terrorism serves to legitimize strict surveillance measures. For instance, Alliance hospitals present ­h igh-security facilities with ID checkpoints, own security forces, and sensor surveillance of “[e]very floor, every doorway, every room” (“Ariel”). In addition, the representation of core worlds establishes a dystopian cultural sameness through architecture. The series presents core planets in terms of the “bright shining metropolis” (Prescott 177). These cities appear to be the end point of a teleological development of humanity up to utopian perfection. The ­steel-and-metal apartment blocks, shiny glass skyscrapers and constant air traffic are all uniform in outlook, irrespective of the core planet the crew is visiting. Although the Alliance is presented as a union between the United States and China, cities do not feature any traditional ­A sian-style architecture. As Ferreras notes, dystopian cities in SF are usually marked by their generic-ness, they are “a projection of a collective identity” (140). The uniform architecture constructs Alliance worlds as universalized, nonindividualistic, and ­non-culturally specific. This interweaves with the surveillance system, which shows how Firefly brings together different elements (ideology, surveillance, induced fear, and architecture) which work in conjuncture in order to frame Alliance planets as dystopian places. Despite these dystopian relations, Alliance planets can be read as fragmented ­i n-between spaces which negotiate utopia and dystopia. The cities are not purely dystopian as they also present realizations of utopianism, defined by Sargent as “social dreaming” (2) aimed at constructing a better society (9). The utopian possibilities of the Alliance remain largely unexplored in Firefly. The series follows the classic dystopian narrative which examines an “imperfect fictional society” (Baccolini and Moylan 5) from the perspective of an outsider who rebels against the system (Sutherland and Swan 90; Baccolini and Moylan 5). The Serenity crew functions as this outsider figure. This outside position has been celebrated by scholars for its liminality, rejecting both the “savageness” of the Reavers and the dystopian civilization of the Alliance (Jones 239) including its “hegemonic historical narrative” (Sobolev 88). While this point is valid, the series’ focus on the Serenity crew entails that the

74 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Alliance is presented from a biased perspective that serves to characterize the Alliance as absolutely dystopian while it neglects and occludes utopian possibilities. The series, however, occasionally introduces alternative vantage points. In “Ariel,” Inara and Simon praise the utopian achievements of core planets. Inara describes Ariel as “a nice place.” This hints at traditional forms of utopia which often took up the city as a “space of Utopian investment” (Jameson 4). Inara praises Ariel for its remarkable museums and haute cuisine and Simon describes it as a “perfect” leisure site which offers hiking tours and bathing in a bioluminescent lake (“Ariel”). Core planets therefore also constitute realizations of a utopian lifestyle—offering excellent cooking, phenomenal art at display, and oases of relaxation. The crew’s visit to St. Lucy’s Hospital exposes another utopian dimension as all core world inhabitants have access to highly advanced technologies and profit from universal health care. In contrast to other scholars, Prescott reads Ariel as a utopian “place of progress” that resembles ­modern-day Pudong and Shanghai (177). She focuses on cultural encounters made possible by the fusion of China and the United States, arguing that Alliance planets present a “positive blended future” (179). Practically all characters in Firefly are bilingual and engage in ­code-switching between English and Mandarin Chinese. Susan Mandala emphasizes its utopian potentiality in Firefly as it is a “potentially unmarked choice: bilingualism is simply part of their [i.e., the characters’] daily existence” (37). At the same time, Chinese as a “­co-official language” (38) in the Alliance performs an act of postcolonial abrogation as it decenters English as the norm and standard means of communication (38). Following Prescott and Mandala, I read the social spaces of the Alliance not as purely dystopian but as sites with a utopian potential for an improved communication between cultures as well as mutual respect and understanding between citizens of culturally diverse backgrounds. Firefly emphasizes this utopian multiculturalism in “Serenity.” The scenes at the docking area of Persephone include panning shots and montages which focus on individuals interacting in a market setting: The crowd is racially diverse—encompassing African Americans, Native Americans, North African, Middle Eastern, and different Asian individuals or groups. They are all marked by their clothing: Indonesian straw hats, burqas, shitagi, Japanese hakama dresses, North African tribal robes, Middle Eastern turbans, and traditional Native American clothing.23 Scholars have critiqued Firefly’s representation of Asian cultures as employing Orientalist imagery and lacking culturally sophisticated differentiations (Brown par. 18, Wright qtd. in Mandala 36). However,



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the fact that the series presents different cultures as interacting on an equal basis suggests the existence of positive multicultural social spaces on Alliance planets, marked by extraordinary utopian diversity. The Serenity crew’s casual incorporation of non–Western items into their daily lives also indicates that cultures have successfully merged: Kaylee uses a Chinese ­oil-paper umbrella in “Serenity” and Inara’s profession requires of her to often wear culturally diverse clothing including “­belly-dancer attire, Thai formal dress, and the sari of South Asia” (Brown par. 22). Inara’s shuttle also presents a mixture of cultural influences—including Chinese teapots, sculptures of Hinduistic gods and goddesses (Brown par. 21); and she enjoys practicing Chinese calligraphy (“Bushwhacked”). Ultimately, the social spaces of the Alliance planets can be read as complex, including both utopian elements (­code-switching, cultural blending, multiculturalism, universal health care, access to advanced technologies, leisure opportunities) and dystopian elements (universal surveillance, enforced conformity, the induction of fear, monolithic architecture). Therefore, they qualify for what Pordzik calls “spatial utopias” (19) that are marked by “fragmentation, discontinuity, and ambiguity” (19). This ­i n-between status serves as an extrapolation from urban spaces today which are also characterized by both utopian and dystopian tendencies (MacLeod and Ward 154). In contrast to the ambiguity of core planets, the series marks spaces that are occupied by criminal networks as purely dystopian. The series presents two examples—the criminal network headed by Badger on Persephone (“Serenity,” “Shindig”) and Adelai Niska’s syndicate (“The Train Job,” “War Stories”). Froese and Buzzard characterize these spaces as an “anarchic, ­k ill-or-be-killed ‘Hobbesian’ political environment” (par. 8). Similarly to the Alliance, the social spaces within these crime networks and on border planets affected by them are marked by “total terror.” While the Alliance relies on psychological terror and the threat of violence, Niska’s organization is based on the constant knowledge of actualized violence (“The Train Job,” “War Stories”). For instance, Niska shows a tortured man to the Serenity crew in order to prove that his “reputation is not from gossip” (“The Train Job”). From Niska’s perspective, social relationships hinge on “reputation,” a term which for him is bound to the economic exchange of goods for services. What becomes clear is that the syndicates code social spaces in terms of negative reciprocity. According to Jencson, negative reciprocity constitutes an economic principle focused on a Social Darwinist system of interaction: “each party tries their best to get the advantage of the other party; all profits derive from taking advantage” (par. 11). Making profit and taking

76 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio advantage here supercede moral/ethical concerns and legitimize murder and torture. Niska demonstrates this when he tells his henchman to hack off Mal’s ear and tortures Mal and Wash with electroshocks (“War Stories”). Jencson ties negative reciprocity and the use of extensive violence by the syndicates to the Black as a new lawless frontier (21). As Slotkin points out in Gunfighter Nation, violence constitutes a quintessential element of both the historical and mythical frontier (11). Violence was historically directed against various racially coded Others (Native Americans, Mexicans) in order to establish an unequal power relation which privileged the ­Euro-American settlers (Hixon x). However, violence in this case does not serve the principle of “regeneration through violence” (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5). Instead, it constitutes a dystopian ruling principle which solidifies the concentration of power over social spaces in the hands of the syndicates. This control of social spaces also takes on a biopolitical dimension which replicates the ­core-periphery relations between Alliance core and border planets (Kahm 157). As noted, the Alliance considers populations of border planets as expendable and replaceable. This power relation turns biopower into necropower as sovereignty shifts from protecting people to the “right to kill” or to let them die (Mbembe 16). The syndicates follow a similar logic. Instead of legitimizing it by a state of exception, they authorize it by economic necessity. Mbembe ties necropolitics to capitalist modernity’s tendency toward “the subordination of everything to impersonal logic and to the reign of calculability and instrumental rationality” (18). The “impersonal logic” of maximizing profits and the “instrumental rationality” which codes all social interactions as having value only if they generate profits underpin Niska’s decision to steal medical goods from the citizens of Paradiso as they are deemed expendable and secondary to the huge profits to be gained (“The Train Job”). Ultimately, the social spaces controlled by crime syndicates constitute an economic necropolitical dystopia which extrapolates from and reflects on the dystopian tendencies inherent in late capitalism. In contrast to both the dystopian criminal networks and the ambiguous Alliance core planets, the series also constructs an alternative social space—Serenity. The series presents the ship as a utopian space marked by the very essence of utopia, “radical otherness” (Jameson xii). This manifests itself in a difference from the governance mechanisms of the Alliance but also from the dystopian social spaces of the syndicates and the Reavers. Some scholars have read Serenity as a utopian space in terms of a metaphorical family (Sturgis 33) and the ship as a domestic space/home for this family (Jowett 104; Money 122; Buckman 177; Budgen 25; Maio 208–209).



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While these readings are valid, approaching Serenity in terms of an intentional community allows for a more nuanced analysis. My approach follows Sargent’s definition: “[A] group of five or more adults and their children, if any, who come from more than one nuclear family and who have chosen to live together to enhance their shared values or for some other mutually agreed upon purpose” (Sargent 15, italics in original). The crew consists of eight adults (Mal, Zoe, Wash, Inara, Jayne, Kaylee, Book, Simon) and one teenager (River). While some characters have familial bonds—Zoe and Wash are married, Simon and River are siblings—the group is united by a “mutually agreed upon purpose” and “shared values.” Their mutually agreed purpose is constituted by living a liminal life beyond the Alliance, the Reavers, and the crime syndicates, i.e., achieving a state of “negative liberty” (Sturgis 32). Sturgis defines negative liberty as “being left alone to make your own choices without external constraints” (32). Through the perceptions of the characters, the ship and its mobility is equated with freedom from outward interference and obligations, a freedom gained by isolation. This state of isolation recalls the literal insularism of traditional utopias as established in Thomas More’s Utopia. Serenity functions as a “­non-space” (Sobolev 93): Its isolationist position turns it into the only space in which (true) utopian freedom and liberty can be exercised. This freedom also expresses itself in the crew selecting which jobs they take, with them rejecting both human trafficking (“Shindig”) and stealing medical goods (“The Train Job”). The ship serves as a ­counter-space in which the dynamics of an intentional community construct a social utopia. The crew is defined by a shared set of values—“solidarity and sincerity, warmth and confidence, faithfulness and humanity, bravery and ­self-irony” (Sobolev 98), combined with respect for everyone’s “individual independence” (Jones 239). These values translate into practices of pooling everyone’s skills for common gain in preparing and executing smuggling/heist plans (“Ariel,” “Trash”) and debates about problems which concern the entire crew (“Serenity,” “Out of Gas,” “Objects in Space”). The crew also follows a principle of morality based on “ethical manhood” (Magill 76) and enjoys equality in rights and value: Members complement each other in skills and they hold to a standard of ethical morality in whom they steal from. They are ready to risk their lives for each other (“Safe,” “War Stories”), and even extend the same altruistic behavior toward ­non-crew members (Tracey in “The Message,” the brothel sex workers in “Heart of Gold”). Jones suggests that the perfect intentional community of the crew should present a role model for ­real-world viewers (243). What Jones

78 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio fails to take into account is that human perfection is an impossible goal (Sargent 21–22). Firefly in fact acknowledges this by incorporating problematic dystopian elements. The captain possesses absolute authority over the crew, which becomes a source for conflict. For instance, in “Serenity,” he wants to execute Agent Dobson despite objections by the crew. Mal makes clear to them that Serenity is “not the rutting town hall” but a ­q uasi-military hierarchy in which the captain makes the (hard) decisions even if the crew does not agree with them. Moreover, the ship cannot be read as a homogeneous utopian space as Jayne always follows his own agenda. He repeatedly demands of Mal to throw Simon and River off the ship (“Serenity,” “Ariel”) and ransacks Simon’s quarters after the doctor is presumed to be lost (“Safe”). Jayne does not embrace the utopian values of the community, which culminates in him delivering Simon and River to the “Feds” in order to make profit (“Ariel”). His action demonstrates that he embraces negative reciprocity, befitting his identity as a “mercenary thug” (Erisman 225). At the end of “Ariel,” Mal takes a drastic action in order to ensure the restoration of the intentional community by shutting Jayne into the airlock and partially opening the outer hatch while Serenity is breaking orbit. On the one hand, Mal’s action is motivated by guaranteeing the ongoing existence of the intentional community. His actions follow a traditional model of utopian leadership in which leaders are responsible for granting “rewards of loyalty and penalties of dissent” (Claeys, Dystopia 46). On the other hand, the scene problematically indicates that the intentional community can only be upheld by coercion and force. Hence, the ship constitutes a critical utopian space rather than a perfect intentional community. The series does not present a blueprint for viewers to follow but a highly ambiguous social space. Serenity is fragmented and constitutes a complex construct whose ­dystopian-ness or eutopian-ness depends on the observer’s perspective, mirroring the Alliance planets and the syndicates.

A System of Inescapable Interrelations Firefly’s complex system of interrelational spaces (Alliance space, the border planets, Reaver space, the Black, and Serenity) disallows for a simplistic reading in terms of the SF frontier or a replication of the frontier myth in outer space. Instead, Firefly works toward the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces. In terms of colonial spaces, the series draws on the frontier myth but also moves beyond it. Firefly engages with different forms of colonialism, the historical past of the United States, and the frontier myth.



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The Alliance’s terraforming and colonization of other planets literalizes the appropriation of “free land,” divorced from violent conflict and conquest, and the Unification War resembles the Civil War. The colonization process itself, however, is marked by violent involuntary transfers of settlers, the lack of support by the Alliance, and the installation of ­neo-colonial economic and class relations. These relations are visually coded as a binaristic separation of classes in different spaces. While Alliance planets are marked by wealth, high technology, and “high culture,” border planets are characterized by the working classes and local production sites for the Alliance. Despite this colonial center/periphery relation, Alliance spaces and border planets can be read as interdependent. All spaces in the system are not clearly bordered but frequently crossed by a various parties and are heterogeneous in themselves. For instance, the Black retains codings of space connected to the frontier myth but simultaneously functions as a site of heterogenity as a space of freedom from the constraints of Alliance governance, a dangerous space, and a space marked by the lack of governance and by illegal operations. At the same time, Firefly breaks with the frontier myth by presenting spaces as relational and indeterminate: The series constructs liminal ­i n-between spaces and explores new forms of human/­non-human relationships and perceptions of spaces. The series’ representation of the Reavers troubles processes of colonial Othering: The Reavers do not function as ­s tand-ins for Native Americans in the Western but their representation becomes a means for playing on the fluidity of “Otherness”: While the Serenity crew codes Reavers as an Other, both the crew and the Reavers are othered by the Alliance due to operating outside the governance system. The series also examines the very process of constructing spaces: It interrogates the role of perception and language in “Objects in Space” and reshapes the relationship between human and ­non-human technological spaces by turning space into an aesthetic object. This strategy breaks with the mythical notion of universalized, ­human-centered frontier spaces: It presents the ship as a perspectival construct and ship and crew constitute an integrated humantechnological organism marked by interdependency rather than relations of domination. In terms of environmental spaces, Firefly participates in but also moves beyond the civilization/wilderness and culture/nature binaries. On the one hand, the relation between Alliance planets and border planets sets up a binaristic system: The series presents Alliance worlds as technologized, artificial, centers of “high culture” in which nature is either eradicated or domesticated. In contrast, border planets lack

80 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio technologies and inhabitants demonstrate a respect for nature. However, Alliance worlds, border planets and Serenity itself can be read in terms of an interconnected and interdependent ecosystem—the selfperceived identity of Alliance citizens is only sustained in relation to the perceived “wilderness” of the border planets, and Serenity sustains the relationship between both while traveling between Alliance spaces and border planets. In terms of riskscapes, Firef ly utilizes the scenario of a postcatastrophic Earth as a result of overpopulation and resource exhaustion. It engages with traditional forms of risk management in SF frontier fiction through the Alliance which relies on terraforming. The series problematizes this classic SF scenario. The perspective of the Alliance frames the terraformed planets as a solution to earlier risks but simultaneously pursues a vision of endless economic expansion—a process which replicates the very risks that it is supposed to solve. Firefly questions the relationship between risks and governance processes as the Alliance uses these new risks to retain a biopolitical hold on border planets, constructing social risk positions which maximize risk for their populations. The Alliance also creates new risks by experimenting on River who can be read as a critical reflection on the “manufactured uncertainties” of the ­t wenty-first century—particularly on the human responsibility for producing technological risks as well as on the human incapability to control/manage these very risks in the world risk society. In terms of utopian/dystopian places, Firefly fragments spaces, negotiating “social dreaming” with dystopian and/or utopian lived spaces. Core planets can be read in terms of the political dystopia as the Alliance utilizes totalitarian measures (e.g., surveillance) in order to construct docile citizens. The surveillance apparatus is tied to the construction of imaginary enemies—extrapolating from post–9/11 politics—as surveillance is justified as a means of protection from “terrorists” such as the Serenity crew. This framing is reinforced by the representation of Alliance worlds as interchangeable spaces which subdue cultural distinctiveness through a homogenized architecture. Despite all of these elements, Alliance planets are not purely dystopian spaces as the series’ reliance on a classic dystopian narrative occludes utopian possibilities. Alliance planets also exemplify utopian possibilities in terms of cultural achievements, technological advances, and equal access to high technologies and a universal health care system. Despite processes of homogenization, Alliance planets enable utopian social spaces of racial and cultural diversity, exemplified by ­code-switching and cultural amalgamation. A similar ambiguity underlies the construction of Serenity. The series marks Serenity. On



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the one hand, it is characterized by utopian ways of living (an equality of rights, complementary skills, ethical morality, a willingness for selfsacrifice, and altruism). On the other hand, dystopian practices of egoism and violent force define the community (Jayne’s betrayal and a quasimilitary command structure in which coercion and force become a means for sustaining the community). In contrast to the Alliance and Serenity, the criminal syndicates in the Black can be read as dystopian lived spaces, based on a desire for profit. While the crime circles also employ “total terror” and surveillance, the construction of hierarchical power relations depends on actualized violence as a dystopian ruling principle. The ­dystopian-ness of these spaces is rooted in a necropolitical capitalist logic of profit maximization—a state which critiques the role of capitalism in shaping spaces as dystopian/utopian in SF frontier fiction and the ­real-world ­t wenty-first century.

3 Moving Beyond Rethinking Binaries, Borders, and the Planet in Terra Nova The analysis of Star Trek and Firefly has shown how SF frontier spaces were reshaped in twentieth and early ­t wenty-first-century SF television in ways that anticipate ­neo-frontier spaces. In contrast, the contemporary television series Terra Nova in fact constructs neofrontier spaces through its representations of colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces. Terra Nova was created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein and broadcast on 20th Century–Fox in 2011. The series presents a society on a future Earth in 2149 which suffers from the effects of an advanced stage of climate change. It chronicles the migration of settlers to 85 million BC by traveling through a time rift in order to construct a new colony in the Cretaceous where they have to contend not only with the environment (natural catastrophes, dinosaur attacks) but also with a second settler group, the “Sixers.” The series presents this migration as a response to the conditions in 2149 as humanity is suffering from atmospheric pollution and overpopulation in hyperindustrialized cities. The series contrasts three spaces—the settler colony of Terra Nova, the forest camp of the “Sixers” (both in the Cretaceous period), and the industrialized cityscapes of 2149.

From the Settler Colony to Transgressive ­Neo-Frontier “Thirdspace(s)” In contrast to Star Trek and Firefly, Terra Nova relocates colonial spaces to Earth instead of outer space. The series participates in the frontier myth but also introduces new ways of thinking by interrogating the construction of (frontier) spaces rather than just the frontier myth 82



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and the history of the U.S. West. Terra Nova counters notions of fixed, unified settler spaces by rethinking ways of perceiving and living in space through relational views and movements in and between spaces. While Star Trek and Firefly resort to relatively stable colonial systems, the ­neo-frontier spaces of Terra Nova radically reshape colonial spaces as ­ever-changing and heterogeneous constructs.

Terra Nova Colony: Colonial Settler Spaces and (Neo-)Frontier Narratives Terra Nova colony constitutes an ­i n-between space which negotiates the SF frontier myth, imagined geographies, and ­neo-frontier ways of thinking. The concepts of the “settler colony” and the “settler narrative” become useful for analyzing this state. The settler colony describes a particular form of colonial spaces that is usually contrasted with the colony: Colonists transform spaces in other countries in order to extract resources for the gain of the empire and eventually return to their homeland (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 53). In contrast, settler colonists transform spaces in other countries in order to establish a permanent residence as they feel entitled to inhabiting the land as their new home (53). Colonies are a part of a colonial imperial system; i.e., the metropolitan center of the empire governs colonies from afar. Settler colonies are marked by ­self-governance and a largely independent administrative apparatus (Elkins and Pedersen 4). While colonies often appropriate existing spatial structures, settler colonies reorganize spaces through establishing new “gridded cities” (Mar and Edmonds 2). The settler narrative designates a specific form of colonial narrative. Traditional colonial narratives are marked by linearity: They begin with colonists traveling to other countries, followed by encounters with Others, and an eventual return home (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 96–97). Settler narratives focus on permanent settlements in a new place and tie this new place to a “teleological expectation of irreversible transformation” (99) of the settler community. In contrast to Star Trek and Firefly, Terra Nova colony is shaped by both colonial and settler colonial constructions of spaces.1 The colonies in Star Trek are tied to the Federation, which acts as a colonial agent, spreading its cultural values and ideologies to alien planets. The colonial spatial system in Firefly tends more toward largely independent, self-governing settler colonies despite still being tied to the Alliance. Terra Nova instead fuses colonial and settler colonial elements in its construction of Terra Nova colony. The colony is located on an alternate past Earth instead of occupying a position in outer space as is often the

84 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio case in SF frontier fiction. This critical re–Earthing also characterizes Defiance and The 100. ­Neo-frontier spaces therefore depart from representations of outer space as a “Final Frontier,” which have dominated American SF television from its very beginning. This does not mean that frontier spaces in outer space have been replaced by ­neo-frontier spaces in the 2010s as there is a continuing presence of SF frontier spaces in contemporary television as evidenced by series such as Stargate Universe (2011), Star Trek: Discovery (2017–present), The Orville (2017– present), and The Expanse (2015–present). In fact, ­neo-frontier spaces and SF frontier spaces coexist in contemporary SF television and also to a certain degree influence each other. In Terra Nova, re–Earthing is combined with a temporal dislocation of colonial spaces. Terra Nova literally locates them in the prehistoric past instead of the future. The narrative device of time travel has been read as a transformation of spatiotemporal relations: David Lewis argues that time travel examines the world as “a ­four-dimensional manifold of events” (358) that includes three spatial dimensions and a temporal one (358). What becomes more important here is that this temporal dislocation allows for a recoding of colonial spaces that moves beyond the postcolonial conception of colonialism as a “historical process of remaking space” (Mar and Edmonds 1, italics added) that is located in the past.2 Terra Nova encourages a rethinking of colonialism and its modes of constructing space(s) as a phenomenon that is multitemporal: It is relevant in the narrative future (of 2149), the narrative present (of the characters), and the narrative past (the colony as a result of a displacement to the Cretaceous period). Moreover, Terra Nova colony complicates a ­clear-cut differentia­ tion according to traditional types of colonial spaces. It is at once a settler colony and an imperial colony, and even turns into a settler state. As Lorenzo Veracini points out, the role of space differs between colonies and settler colonies. Colonies are based on the eventual return of the colonizer home and on the exploitation of native labor for harvesting resources and transporting them to the metropolitan center (Settler Colonialism 53). In contrast, settler colonies are anchored in an animus manendi, the intention to stay and live in the space which one has colonized (53). Terra Nova qualifies for the designation “settler colony”—it is a permanent colony which exists for seven years (“Genesis”) and is populated by approximately 1,000 settlers who are joined by regular migration waves from 2149 (“Occupation”/“Resistance”). The series does not present the colony as autonomous or independent as it receives regular deliveries of technological items, construction material, and medical supplies from 2149. This, however, is also often the case for settler



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colonies as the imperial metropole retains its sovereignty over and responsibility for the maintenance of settler colonies (Elkins and Pedersen 4). Despite these imperial ties, Terra Nova colony functions as an alternative space to 2149 as it constitutes a ­self-governing entity. In contrast to the imperial colony, governance of a settler colony is usually transferred to a local authority and administration which nominally has to follow the metropole’s law but is granted “considerable ­self-governing rights” (Elkins and Pedersen 4). Terra Nova colony is ruled by a military government placed in power by 2149 but Commander Taylor does not feel responsible for organizing the colony according to the laws of the future (“Genesis”). For instance, this would require of him to lock up Jim, who served a ­six-year sentence for breaking population laws in 2149. Taylor makes clear that “population laws from another time” do not hold any value in the colony. Imperial control is weak, with the colony governed by Taylor and his team according to their own laws and ideologies which code the colony as a place “to start over”: This emphasis on ­self-governance trumps remaining imperial ties to the future; i.e., the colony is largely disconnected from the economic and political system of 2149. Terra Nova also articulates a critique of settler colonial processes of invasion as the series is marked by narratives which interrogate the very foundations of settler colonialism. As Patrick Wolfe argues, for settler colonies, invasion constitutes an ongoing structural component for organizing spaces rather than a ­short-term event (2). Imperial colonization involves the invasion of a foreign country, followed by a prolonged occupation of the invaded country. In contrast, settler colonies rely on invasion as an ongoing structural paradigm which underpins politics, laws, and social organization. While this is often not acknowledged in SF texts, Terra Nova recognizes this condition in its narratives. In “Instinct,” swarms of pterosaurs attack the colony. The representation of the dinosaurs codes them as invaders: Point of view shots align the viewer’s perspective with the colonists who watch “their” home being invaded as established borders are transgressed by the pterosaurs. The attack is accompanied by screeching noises which draw on conventions of the horror movie, evoking images of attacking birds from Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). However, the episode contrasts this view with evidence that Terra Nova colony in its physical existence presents an ongoing structure of invasion as it occupies the pterosaurs’ breeding ground. This contrasts starkly with the frontier thinking of the colonists who believe they have settled on “free land.” This significant realization implicitly speaks to New Western History in which the frontier

86 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio is no longer read in terms of settling on “free land” but as a colonial system based on ongoing conquest (Limerick 19). As such, the narrative construction of Terra Nova colony articulates a ­neo-frontier reflectivity which becomes critical of settler colonialism and the frontier itself. Despite this ­self-reflectivity, the design of Terra Nova follows the architectural patterns of a settler colony. Settler colonies usually consist of agricultural areas devoted to monocultures and striated, gridded habitation areas which are bordered, policed, and defended against invasion (Mar and Edmonds 2). The colony has a circular shape. Its core is dominated by agricultural fields which represent the nutritional heart of the colony. They are surrounded by a housing ring. The streets and houses are arranged in a rectilinear grid, which can be read in terms of what Deleuze and Guattari call “striated space.” Striated space is imposed by the state and political order in order to organize and control space as something unchanging and functional (552–557). In Terra Nova, the living area is strictly striated: The infrastructure allows for an efficient use of space and the houses are standardized metal buildings which emphasize functionality over aesthetics. A massive fence functions as a wall, equipped with armored watchtowers which safeguard the colonists against dinosaur attacks which are associated with—to follow Deleuze and Guattari again—the smooth space of the jungle. Therefore, the architectural design of the settler colony establishes a spatial inside/outside binary which codes the inside as a safe space and home to live in, whereas the jungle is coded as dangerous. This coding constructs a further binary between knowledge and non-knowledge as the colony can be read as what Sharp calls a “knowable pattern” (56) that structures the social life of the inhabitants (57), whereas the jungle represents the unknowable and unsurveyable. Although the military government attempts to map the jungle, the results remain fragmented due to its vast scale and because areas with thick vegetation prove impervious to the ­h igh-tech scanners (“Genesis,” “The Runaway”). The fact that the mapping process remains incomplete is significant here. Mapping is usually part of “the [colonial] project of homogenization” (Westphal 61). The ability to know, chart, and map space reinforces the colonizer’s sovereignty and position as an actor who dominates the spaces which he or she enters. The unknowability of the jungle and failure of colonial mapping in Terra Nova highlights the limits of settler colonial mastery over space: It presents space as a construct which is open and offers encounters with the unknown/unexpected and not something that is fixable and mappable. The representation of the colony as a safe space is also linked to perceived frontier values as the series constructs “imagined geographies”



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(Sharp 11). As Joanne Sharp notes, “imagined geographies described the world to people, and explained their place within it, and were thus very significant in shaping how people responded to the world” (12). In Terra Nova, each new wave of settlers is greeted by Commander Taylor (“Genesis”). Taylor’s welcoming speech connects the newcomers to an imagined geography of the colony: Each one of you has taken a first step, just as I did seven years ago, toward a new beginning. Together, we are at the dawn of a new civilization. […] The world you left behind fell victim to some of the baser instincts of our species: greed, war, ignorance. […] But we have been entrusted with a second chance. A chance to start over. A chance to get it right.

Taylor here clearly codes the colony in terms of the SF frontier myth. His speech resonates with the mythical key claim that the frontier is a place of “perennial rebirth” (Turner 199) and enables the formation of a new common identity (199–202). Taylor’s speech employs the same renewal rhetoric—he presents the colony as a “new beginning,” a “new civilization,” a “second chance,” and a place “to start over” and “get it right.” In line with the frontier myth, Taylor constructs a new identity for the future citizens which he stages as a positive alternative to their identities and ways of life in 2149. This new identity revolves around an agrarian lifestyle which—just like Turner’s frontier—produces a “frontier democracy” (Turner 222) in contrast to the rule of wealthy ­upper-class elites who are bent on maximizing profits and exhausting natural resources in 2149. Taylor’s frontier rhetoric crucially asserts the settler sovereignty of the colony against the metropolitan center in the future although 2149 is still sending colonists and resources to the past. Due to the inhabitation of a “specific locale” (Veracini 55) and “a particular lifestyle” (55) that is deemed to be distinct from the “greed, war, ignorance” of the future, Taylor constructs an imaginative transfer for the new settlers toward perceiving the colony as a new home which is ­self-governing and autonomous. His focus on the “specific locale” of Terra Nova follows “sedentarist metaphysics” (Cresswell 26, italics in original). Sedentarist metaphysics place an emphasis on the fixity of identities, places, and spaces. Identity and places are inseparably tied together for inhabitants who are therefore rooted in the place they live in (26). Taylor’s vision of a communal settler identity can be read as sedentarist as a lifestyle without “greed, war, ignorance” is only possible within the colony and is tied to the land on which the colony has been erected. Through this imaginative transfer and call for sedentarism, the series employs a ­backward-looking narrative which is tied to the frontier

88 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio myth. As Veracini highlights, settlers “construe their very movement forward as a ‘return’ to something that was irretrievably lost: a return to the land, but also a return to an Edenic condition” (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 98–99). In contrast to the biblical promise of redeeming humanity from the Fall from Eden and a life in New Jerusalem in the future, Taylor’s narrative moves backward as the colony can only exist in the past. However, the time travel to the past does not enable a going back to U.S. settler frontiers of the sixteenth to nineteenth century but constitutes a spatiotemporal turn—not return—to a new form of frontier spaces (­neo-frontier spaces).

Colonial Othering and Spaces: Borders, Exclusion, and the Smooth Space of the Jungle The jungle in Terra Nova presents a different kind of ­neo-frontier space: While Terra Nova colony remains tied to colonial tenets of a striated space, the jungle ­re-conceptualizes frontier spaces through openness and movement. My analysis is informed by the concepts of “mobility” and “nomadism.” Mobility describes a process of displacement, “the act of moving between locations” (Cresswell 2). It not only designates an act of movement but also entails a specific “lived relation” to space and place (Adey xvii, italics in original). While colonial space-making focuses on constructing permanent settlements, mobility enables nomadism rather than sedentarism. Nomadism refers to a structured form of movement, migrations of groups who move in-between different locations, while periodically returning to specific seasonal sites (Tuan 182). As Deleuze and Guattari point out, nomadism creates a smooth space in which living is not conceptualized by permanent residence but through the journey and mobility (556). Both mobility and nomadism are deeply engrained within the SF frontier myth. Still, they become productive for reading the jungle because they enable alternative conceptualizations of settler colonial spaces: The representation of the jungle juxtaposes different ways of living in space (mobility, nomadism) which complement traditional ways of living in the colony (residence, sedentarism). It therefore turns ­neo-frontier spaces into heterogeneous constructs which accommodate plural ways of imagining and living in space. The series constructs the jungle as an “Otherspace” outside the colony which is marked by the Sixers. The Sixers—a separatist group of former colonists belonging to the Sixth Pilgrimage—occupy the position of what Veracini calls an “exogenous Other” (16). An exogenous Other differs from an indigenous Other in that it has also moved into



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the settler locale but is not committed to the settler project and its frontier ideology (20). The Sixers present a different ideological mindset as they are employed by businessmen in 2149 and are tasked with weakening Terra Nova colony through terrorist ambushes (“Genesis,” “Leah,” “Vs.,” “Occupation/Resistance”). Their primary target consists in finding a way to modify the time portal to make it possible to extract valuable resources and send them back to 2149. Due to their different agenda, Taylor and his military command contemplate the Sixers as an “abject Other,” they are “irredeemable, they are [therefore] permanently excluded from the settler body politic” (27). Spatial segregation often presents a quintessential element in both settler colonial societies (e.g., the U.S. slavery system and post–Civil War “Jim Crow” legislation) and imperial colonial societies that are compartmentalized with a clear power differential favoring the colonizer over the colonized (Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth 66). This typical spatial exclusion of the Sixers aligns with Fanon’s claim that colonial societies install a system of culturally—and in this case also spatially—separated “camps” (Fanon, White Skin, Black Masks 2). This spatial segregation translates into a construction of social spaces in terms of an us/them binary which postcolonial scholars have identified as a foundational structure that underlies colonial Othering (Kerslake 8; Said 7). Instead of comprehending space as a construct that comes into being through interactions and interrelations (Massey 99), the representational strategies employed by the Terra Nova colonists aim at establishing a complete spatial, cultural, and ideological separation from the Sixers. This already becomes clear in “Genesis.” After a Sixer spy has attempted to murder him, Commander Taylor takes Jim Shannon on a hiking tour in order to inform him about the colony’s past: TAYLOR: You can’t build civilization in a day, Shannon. […] That fella who tried to put a bullet in me? He’s part of another settlement that split away from Terra Nova. Around here, people call ’em “Sixers.” […] At first, they seemed just like the rest of us. But pretty soon, we began noticing some things, like how curious they were about camp security procedures. By the time we found the cache of contraband weapons, it was clear: They had an agenda.

Although Taylor seems to narrate a factual sequence of past events, his narrative is framed by an exclusionary Othering rhetoric. He repeatedly employs the designations “us” and “them” and makes clear that although the Sixers were once part of Terra Nova they are now permanently excluded from it, an exclusion which he legitimizes by their actions in the past. Taylor codes the Sixers as thieves and highlights

90 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio their ideological deviance from the ­n eo-frontier mindset of Terra Nova (they are not “like the rest of us”). The scene sets up Taylor as the speaker who has the power to narrate the history of the Other. The power inherent in his act of narration is reinforced by the videography— Taylor is framed from a ­low-angle medium shot which serves to represent him as a power figure—both in terms of his rank and his position as a narrator. This introduction of the Sixers does not allow for the Other to speak (to rephrase Spivak’s famous question) but silences them—a process which traditional SF often employs (Kerslake 20–22). The Sixers are not allowed to speak/represent themselves and Taylor introduces the Sixers only indirectly: He starts by observing that “[y]ou can’t build civilization in a day,” a reference to Terra Nova. He then goes on to talk about the Sixers, who are framed as adversarial and only gain their importance through their relation to Terra Nova. Therefore, Terra Nova’s framing of the Sixers as a social Other draws on traditional colonial modes of representation often found in SF frontier fiction. This exclusionary framing is also videographically retained in interactions between both groups. Taylor and Mira, the commander of the Sixers, repeatedly confront each other on the main plaza (“Genesis”) or at the gate of the colony (“The Runaway”). In each case, the use of a ­shot-reverse shot goes beyond indicating a switch of focus on the respective speaker. Instead, it reinforces the spatial separation of both groups by constructing an imaginary border—both groups are represented through medium to medium long shots which emphasize feelings of hostility and neither of them crosses the imaginary line. This border is not only of a spatial and ideological order but also indicates racial difference as a factor in separating the groups. The series mostly refrains from racializing representations or racial stereotyping.3 Still, the Sixers are mostly constituted by individuals of Latin American or African American origin. This contrast is epitomized by the clash between the old Caucasian male Taylor and the relatively young female African American Mira. Although the series primarily focuses on differences on an ideological and cultural level, race remains a subtext and is visually marked. By this I do not mean to suggest that a traditional colonial “black”/“white” contrast or, “red”/“white” binary is established: In fact, Terra Nova colony itself is a multicultural and multiracial community including Dr. Elizabeth Shannon, a black British (in accent) or African American trauma surgeon; her and Jim’s “­m ixed-race” children Josh, Maddy, and Zoe; Mexican security officer Guzman, and African American technician/soldier Riley. The Sixers’ life in the jungle is dominated by movement, restlessness, and rootlessness. As the fugitive Leah tells Taylor the Sixers are



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“always on the move” (“The Runaway”). They erect temporary makeshift camps in the canopy of trees and relocate by using rovers (“Genesis,” “The Runaway”). In contrast to the fixity of Terra Nova, their living in space involves constant mobility. Mobility designates “a displacement—the act of moving between locations” (Cresswell 2). It presents a specific way of relating to space and place through the act of movement (displacement) instead of settlement (emplacement). Mobility is always “a lived relation; it is an orientation to oneself, to others, and the world” (Ady xvii). This also underpins the life of the Sixers in the jungle. Their mobility arises in relation to Terra Nova, in relation to the “world” as they perceive it, and in relation to their own desires. The Sixers reject the perception of Terra Nova as a space for “starting over” and mock the colonists’ idealistic ideologies (“Genesis”).4 Their mobile outsider position enables them to perceive Terra Nova outside of the ideology perpetuated by its ­m ilitary-political apparatus. Their relational point of view adopts a critical view and puts the colony in temporal and spatial relation to 2149—a connection which Taylor attempts to sever. Their point of view takes into account the desires and plans of corporations in 2149 that do not perceive the colony as a place for humanity to start over but as a settlement which will allow them to exploit resources and transport them to 2149 (“Occupation/Resistance”). Mobility here becomes a means for rethinking settler colonial ways of relating to and representing space: The spatial positioning and movement of the Sixers unhinges a homogeneous representation of settler spaces and instead presents the ­neo-frontier spaces of the Cretaceous as relational and contested constructs. Mobility and the simultaneous “­outside-ness” (being outside of Terra Nova and being literally outside in the jungle) codes the Sixers’ way of living as a modified version of frontier nomadism. As Deleuze and Guattari argue, nomadic life conceptualizes space and place differently from striated space by emphasizing mobility which constitutes a unique “mode of spatialization, the manner of being in space, of being for space” (561). The Sixers conceptualize space and place through traveling rather than through a notion of residence. The jungle constitutes a smooth space that is envisioned as potentially “infinite, open and unlimited in every direction” (553). This openness/unlimitedness stands in stark contrast to Terra Nova which is closed, limited by its status as a striated and bordered settler space. The Sixers’ mobility evokes positive interpretations of mobility as equaling freedom and opportunity (Cresswell 1–2). This view of mobility is set apart from the colonists who associate mobility—along contemporary negative views of movement—as an expression of “shiftlessness, deviance, and as resistance” (2) to established norms (in this case settler colonial ways of thinking).

92 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio The series ultimately contrasts two ways of living in spaces of the past that, however, both employ ideological elements of mythical frontier spaces. Terra Nova evokes associations with Turner’s “farmer’s frontier” and especially with the “­Jeffersonian-agrarian vision” of an agricultural state (Lehan xvi). Jefferson imagined a state which revolved around “working the land” as an expression of man’s “natural” political right to the land, validated by Manifest Destiny and the authority of the Founding Fathers (32). The Sixers’ mobile life in the jungle instead codes the jungle as a frontier space which follows a “return to nature” pattern often employed in American colonial adventure fiction (e.g., in James Fenimore Cooper’s novels) and in Transcendentalist visions by Emerson and Thoreau (Lehan 36–38).5 The Sixers’ movement through the jungle, however, does not follow classical forms of nomadism. Nomadism is not free roaming but is structured around points which are returned to on a seasonal basis (Tuan 182). Temporary camps serve as places of attachment which are not rooted in space but mobile (182). For the Sixers, their camps fulfill a similar purpose but they do not periodically return to the same sites. Instead, the mobility of their camps allows for randomized displacements to ­e ver-new locations that are not an aimless roaming but are structured strategically in relation to Terra Nova. The Sixers’ migrations are occasioned by the colonists’ continued attempts at pinpointing the location of the Sixer camp (“The Runaway”). Consequently, the Sixers’ movement within the jungle presents a paradoxical form of free but forced nomadism/mobility. Their mobile life presents an alternative mode of living in smooth space which grants them freedom but it is not a voluntary decision but occasioned by external forces. The Sixers’ nomadism is not only constrained by the imperative to evade detection but also through their employers in 2149. As Adey points out, mobilities are not free but happen “with others in a sense of symbiotic path dependency—trajectories that intertwine and share a common direction” (23). The Sixers’ mobility is intertwined with the mobilities of their employers who plan to take over Terra Nova by force and to turn it into a production center which delivers resources to 2149 (“Within,” “Occupation”/“Resistance”). Both the corporate employers and the Sixers’ mobilities are oriented along a “common direction”— moving into and occupying Terra Nova. This trajectory is handled differently: The Sixers attack or infiltrate Terra Nova but never take it over on their own (“Genesis,” “The Runaway,” “Nightfall”). The corporate employers utilize a trained military force and tanks to surmount Terra Nova’s defenses and occupy it (“Occupation”/“Resistance”). Ultimately, mobilities are inherently ambiguous in the series: While they



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offer a means for critiquing settler colonial ­place-making, they are ideologically tied to a capitalist exploitation agenda which reifies colonial views of space as a resource that serves to fulfill the colonizer’s desire for ­profit-making.

From Separate Spaces to Thirdspaces: Transgressions, Interactions, and Interrelational Spaces While the analysis has so far focused on the settler colony and the jungle as different spaces I contend that both—in their interplay—generate a ­neo-frontier “Thirdspace.” On the one hand, social and spatial transgressivity becomes a structure of the ­neo-frontier spaces in the series. In particular, transgressivity can be read as a means for reworking spatial and social SF frontier binaries such as Self/Other, striated space/smooth space, sedentarism/nomadism, fixity/mobility. On the other hand, the series relies on videographic multifocalization6; i.e., the camera focalizes on a specific group and contrasts their different perspectives on space(s) which allows for the construction of ­neo-frontier Thirdspaces. This subchapter draws on the concepts of “transgression” and “Third Space”/“Thirdspace.” Transgression derives from the Latin transgredi which designated the act of crossing a border or a river (Westphal 41). Later, it also took on the meaning of violating norms or laws; e.g., crime is seen as a transgressive act (42). Transgression redefines borders: It sets up a border that is not to be crossed (crossing would be a violation) but simultaneously the border is porous; i.e., it is paradoxically intended to be crossed (42). The concept becomes useful for reading ­neo-frontier spaces in Terra Nova which break down the borders between colony and jungle and depart from normative traditions. ­Neo-frontier spaces in Terra Nova can be read as a “Third Space”/ “Thirdspace.” This concept has been used differently in geography and postcolonial studies. According to geographer Edward Soja, “Thirdspace” constitutes a new form of postmodern space which ­re-combines three dimensions: spatiality, historicality, and sociality (Thirdspace 3). Thirdspace can be defined as “a space of extraordinary openness, a place of critical exchange where the geographical imagination can be expanded to encompass a multiplicity of perspectives” (5). Homi Bhaba’s definition of a postcolonial “Third Space” (37) adds a cultural dimension: He argues that borders do not merely function as a line of separation but can generate a new form of cultural space (5, 37–38). This space constitutes “the cutting edge of translation and negotiation, the inbetween space […] that carries the burden of the meaning of culture”

94 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio (38). Both concepts introduce elements—a ­multi-perspectivism on how space is imagined and lived in; a cultural space of negotiation rather than separation—which become useful for examining how Terra Nova reshapes frontier spaces through transgressivity and multifocalization. As noted before, the representation of Terra Nova and the jungle constructs these spaces as antithetical and separated—the sedentary, fixed, policed, and bordered space of the colony against the open, mobile, nomadic smooth space of the jungle. However, what makes Terra Nova so interesting is that these apparently exclusive spaces interact with each other and are constantly transgressed and recoded which allows for the series to ultimately destabilize the colony/Otherspace binary. The series presents the Sixers as repeatedly transgressing into the colony: In the pilot, a saboteur gains access to Terra Nova (“Genesis”), they enter the colony to negotiate about the release of an assassin (“Genesis”) and utilize a dinosaur attack to invade Terra Nova (“Nightfall”). In “The Runaway,” Leah, a Sixer spy, is admitted into the colony under the assumption that she is a refugee from the Sixer camp. In the series finale “Occupation”/“Resistance” the Sixers join the military Phoenix team from the future and manage to take over Terra Nova colony. This last transgression upturns the entire spatial arrangement of the series. Instead of being an excluded exogenous Other, the Sixers and the Phoenix Group become an occupation force. The colonists ironically now occupy the spatial position previously occupied by the Sixers in the jungle. This inversion highlights that spaces are always in process (Massey 100), they are constantly made and remade by the colonists, the Sixers, the Phoenix group, and the corporate elites from the future. Transgression, however, also exists in the opposite direction as settlers repeatedly cross into the jungle although it has been declared “off limits” (“Genesis”). For instance, a group of teenagers sneaks out of the colony in order to have “fun” outside the gates (swimming, flirting, exploring, and illegally brewing alcohol). The teenagers here violate the law of the colony. In spite of that, Taylor and his security team themselves often cross the border as they see themselves exempt from the regulation. Taylor and his soldiers routinely enter the jungle to transport personnel to and from various military and scientific outposts (“What Remains,” “Bylaw”). Taylor often crosses into the jungle for no reason connected to the operation of the colony as he goes fishing (“Proof ”). He also ignores the lockdown order in “Now You See Me” and refuses to name his destination despite his own general orders. The notion of criminal transgression becomes fluid here: While the teenagers are contemplated by Taylor to have transgressed the law, his own crossing of the border is deemed acceptable.



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As these examples show, transgression constitutes a structuring element for the series as a whole. This, in turn, undermines the strategies of separation which the series has set up. The act of transgression highlights that Terra Nova colony, the jungle, and even the hyperindustrial cities of 2149 all constantly interact, shape, and transform each other: Each of these spaces in fact is the “product of interrelations” (Massey 9) instead of being a separate space which is exclusively constructed by one group. In fact, transgressivity can also be read a means for the series to question Othering and the physical and social borders separating colonists and Sixers. While both narrative and videographic representational strategies work to maintain a social separation, the series gradually undermines these techniques and explores more complex interactions between colonists and Sixers. In “The Runaway,” Taylor’s representation of the Sixers as following an “evil” agenda becomes qualified. Mira represents herself for the first time and it becomes clear that she does not collaborate with corporate elites of 2149 out of malicious intentions or a commitment to capitalist ideologies: She has been forced into service out of the necessity to sustain her family and because her daughter Sienna is held hostage (“Now You See Me”). In contrast to the colonists’ attempts at representing the Sixers as a homogeneous mass (“they”), Mira’s character is both humanized and individualized here. In addition to this, both the spatial separation and social bordering maintained before is upturned in “Now You See Me.” Mira and Taylor are not located in “their” respective spaces as both of them find themselves in an unknown area of the jungle. The series subtly executes a transition away from earlier representations. In the beginning, the episode maintains a Self/Other distinction. They perceive their respective Other along with the SF staple of the “resourceful enemy” who threatens the respective Self’s survival (Kerslake 19): Mira captures and handcuffs Taylor, a power relation which is later reversed when Taylor tricks Mira and then takes her hostage instead. When both characters realize that they are trapped in Carnotauri territory they recognize the necessity to work together against another Other. Othering between Taylor and Mira shifts toward seeing the Other as “same,” a perspective from which “the outsider is increasingly [seen as] the subject of a human empathy” (Kerslake 20). Empathy allows both characters to identify similarities between them: Both are able and charismatic leader figures and have to cope with the absence of their children. Both show considerable survival skills and knowledge about dinosaur customs and acknowledge their respect for the other’s leadership skills. Their encounter culminates in a campfire dinner in which both acknowledge that they might

96 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio have been friends in a parallel universe. Although this transcendence of Othering remains temporary, the episode nevertheless sheds a critical light on colonial Othering. It goes beyond representing the Other as a fixed category and reshapes it as a changeable, relational construct which is malleable in social interactions between individuals. The series also breaks down Othering through formal means of representation: Terra Nova alternates representations of the Sixers by the Terra Nova colonists with scenes in which the camera’s gaze focuses on the Sixers and their points of view. This process balances representations by shifting the focalizer between different groups (multifocalization). According to Westphal, multifocalization allows for a (postcolonial) shift in how spaces are perceived, conceived, and lived in as it allows for both multiculturalism and a multiplicity of coexisting voices and gazes (124). This ­co-presence of several points of view and conceptions of space(s) enables a juxtaposition of “different alterities, or a surplus of alterity in the heart of a common space” (130, italics in original). This is exactly the effect of videographic multifocalization in Terra Nova: Alternative viewpoints on space are placed next to each other and are negotiated between characters (e.g., Taylor and Mira) who in the very process of negotiation construct these spaces in the first place. Therefore, the series deconstructs its own ideological formations of settler colonial space and a space of the exogenous Other. Its representation of physical and social spaces can be read in terms of a “Thirdspace,” i.e., “a space of extraordinary openness, a place of critical exchange where the geographical imagination can be expanded to encompass a multiplicity of perspectives” (Soja, Thirdspace, 5). This multiplicity of perspectives becomes visible in Terra Nova: Different individuals and groups attempt to fix space imaginatively and physically, but ultimately the lived spaces of the series present space as an interactional product that is constantly remade and changes through interactions between groups and individuals.

Transgressive Spaces and Moving Beyond Binaries Ultimately, Terra Nova reshapes mythical SF frontier spaces through narrative and formal means. It constructs ­neo-frontier spaces that are marked by a reflectivity which questions established settler colonial assumptions. At the same time, Terra Nova plays on the conflict between imagined settler spaces and lived spaces. On the one hand,



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the series draws on frontier mythical notions of imagining and living in space: It presents the colony as a site of “starting over,” it uses Othering (through dialogues, videography, and ­mise-en-scène), it appropriates traditional colonial architectural designs, and is marked by colonial “border thinking.” On the other hand, the series employs transgressivity as a structure of its narrative world. The series’ constant transgressions, relational mobilities, and videographic multifocalization open up a possibility for rethinking settler colonial space. Homi Bhaba argues that cultural contact can create a space of negotiation and cultural hybridization (38). Terra Nova creates ­neo-frontier Thirdspaces/Third Spaces which ultimately transcend colonial binaries such as Self/Other, striated/smooth, colony/jungle, and sedentarism/nomadism. As such, the ­neo-frontier spaces of Terra Nova critique the continued relevance of colonial ways of thinking in American culture by interrogating SF frontier spaces and colonialism.

From the Wilderness/Civilization Binary to Places of ­Co-Presence and Interdependence Not unlike Firefly, Defiance, and The 100, the representation of environmental spaces in the Cretaceous in Terra Nova draws on the wilderness/civilization binary, setting up a contrast between the colony and the jungle. While Firefly critiques the binary without transcending it, Terra Nova reshapes frontier spaces through the relationship between Terra Nova colony in relation to both natural spaces and animal species which occupy the same ecosystem. In traditional SF frontier fiction only humans can create places and wilderness is conceptualized as an abstract outside space that stands apart from the colony. In contrast, Terra Nova can be read as a “natural city,” i.e., an urban form which integrates the human and ­non-human with each other in an ecological fashion (Stefanovic and Scharper 4). The environmental ­neo-frontier spaces of Terra Nova also redefine the relationship between the human and the ­non-human through relations of sustainability which differ from the capitalist relations which dominate Firefly and Defiance. While these series question the problematic impact of capitalism on environmental spaces, they are still locked within capitalist systems of trade and resource exploitation. Instead, Terra Nova conceptualizes environmental spaces not as colonial reservoirs of exploitable resources but as spaces in which nature is lived with and used with care.

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Terra Nova Colony: ­Place-Making, ­Place-Attachment, and the Environment Terra Nova participates in the frontier mythical notion of a “natural” place but also departs from this conception. On the one hand, the series constructs the colony along a mythical “return to nature” pattern, i.e., “starting over” in a natural place, a return to agrarianism, and a lifestyle focused on working of the land. On the other hand, narratives and interactions between the human and the ­non-human in Terra Nova reshape the notion of place by renegotiating relationships between the human and the ­non-human (animals) which depart from SF frontier spaces in which colonial domination over animals often functions as a staple element (Vint, Animal Alterity 112). In order to read the relationship between the colonists, animals, and places in Terra Nova, I draw on the concepts of “place” and a “sense of place” (Heise 8) as they have been theorized in geography and environmental criticism. Whereas space connotes an abstract and general geographical entity (Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism 63; Ryan, Foote, Azaryahu 7), places are defined as specific locations endowed with human values (Tuan 4).7 They constitute a part of space that has been reshaped by human habitation (Ryan, Foote, Azaryahu 7). Place is often connected to ­place-attachments by individuals, expressed in a ­so-called “sense of place” (Bernardo 2; Heise 8). This concept can be defined as “the affective, emotive bonds and attachments people develop or experience in particular places and environments on a variety of scales, from the microscale of the home (or even room), to the neighborhood, city, state, or nation” (Ryan, Foote, Azaryahu 7).8 Both concepts become valuable for reading Terra Nova because the representation of environmental spaces departs from these anthropocentric understandings of place: Terra Nova reshapes place as a site of encounter, multiplicity and a “throwntogetherness” of the human and the ­non-human. The series constructs Terra Nova colony as an imagined and lived space which is defined by a “sense of place” through the rhetoric of characters. While this aligns with frontier mythical calls for localism, it also involves ambiguous processes of turning recently settled spaces into a “home.” Ursula K. Heise argues that a sense of place has been engrained in American environmental and cultural thought (Heise 8–9). In U.S. culture, “the local [served] as a ground for individual and communal identity” (9). This identity was tied to a “rootedness in place” (9), a stance which paradoxically counteracted the frontier idea of American life being defined by “mobility, restlessness, rootlessness, and nomadism” (9). It is this tension between rootedness and movement that



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characterizes how the characters in Terra Nova relate to the places they inhabit. The colonists attempt to connect with their environment by establishing a sense of place that is rooted in the local—a process fueled by their attempts to code the colony as a home. This is first established when Commander Taylor greets the new settlers: “Welcome home, folks!”(“Genesis”). Taylor himself has become rooted in this place as he is a ­long-time resident of Terra Nova. When Taylor loses his ­long-term memory, Lieutenant Washington appeals to his sense of place: “This is your place. This is your home” (“What Remains”). The series frames the relationship between Terra Nova and the natural environment through a frontier conception of being connected to the soil and working the land. This resonates with the cultural and intellectual history of the United States in which individuals sought “a closer connection to the land” (Heise 32) by an “encounter with and physical immersion in the landscape” (29).9 This desire is often expressed through “building one’s own house, homesteading one’s own farm, or becoming ­s elf-sufficient in terms of food and energy” (Heise 30). Although the individualization of the single farmer is abandoned in Terra Nova, the community’s relation to the land is based on agrarianism—knowing the land and the place in which one dwells. A major part of the colony is devoted to planted fields that are the source for the colony’s food supplies. A large part of the community, the “Agricultural Detail,” is engaged in farming or scientific research on how to keep plants healthy and how to increase the quality and quantity of the natural products (“Genesis”). Despite the existence of a monetary system—a currency called “Terras” (“Genesis,” “Bylaw”)—capitalist or industrialist thinking are staged as burdens of the future that the colonists have left behind in favor of promoting the ­well-being of all inhabitants (“Genesis”). This (re)turn to agriculture as a ­non-industrial, non-profit-oriented working of the land—with the citizens aiming at self-sustainability—functions as a means to realizing a “starting over” in a place which is clearly different from 2149. The representation of physical, emotional, ideological, and historical attachments to the colony departs from the SF frontier on which restless settlers are continuously driven to claim “new land” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167). Terra Nova signifies a rootedness in place which codes nomadism as a danger. The colony therefore abolishes a central aspect of the frontier—its state as a movable borderline. It replaces “rugged individualism” with a ­place-based community that demonstrates an understanding of living with nature, resonating with environmentalist calls for a “lived experience worthy of care” (Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism 76) rather than a destruction of nature.

100 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio However, the construction of Terra Nova as a ­non-capitalist place in which inhabitants can (re)turn to nature is destabilized by the “Probe” which calls attention to the ­capitalist-technological underpinnings of the colony: It is a central monument, located at an intersection leading from the residence areas to the main gate and marketplace. Its prominent display counters the agrarian frontier ideologies of the colony as a supposedly natural place. As Buell points out, places are always an accumulative collection of “serial ­place-experiences” (The Future of Environmental Criticism 73). They are not only defined by their present state but also by their accumulated historical past. As ­Yi-Fu Tuan highlights, monuments serve an important role in this respect—they present visible objects which are recognized by the people, can be pointed to, and record the history of the place for its inhabitants (161). In Terra Nova, the probe commemorates both the discovery of the time rift between 2149 and the Cretaceous and the beginning of the colonization project which led to the construction of Terra Nova. Place is deliberately historicized here and put in relation to 2149, a process which paradoxically clashes with Taylor’s emphasis on a radical break from the future. The probe remains an ambiguous symbol. For Maddy Shannon, it symbolizes the scientific insight that the past was survivable and therefore the basis for “starting over” by colonizing a more natural place. Nevertheless, the probe at the same time constitutes a monument to the industrial science and technology of 2149: It is a technological feat which could only be developed in the ­hyper-industrialized and hypercapitalist system of 2149. While the ­neo-frontier ideologies attached to the colony advocate for a (re)turn to nature, the prominent display of the probe reifies a belief in technological mastery over nature and rationalist notions of “human superiority, reason, mastery and manipulation, ­human-centredness and instrumentalism” (Plumwood 11). The probe highlights a central paradox: While Terra Nova is predicated on non-capitalist agrarianism and working the land, the colony could only come into being as a result of the very ­techno-scientific capitalist processes which it now rejects. This connection to the technoscientific capitalism of 2149 also entails an important qualification: The colony is not a natural place but constitutes a human construct, imposed on the ecosystems of 85 million BC. According to Buell, the construction of places has always involved an artificial intrusion into already existing ecosystems (The Future of Environmental Criticism 62–64). In Terra Nova, the construction of the colony required a ­large-scale clearing of jungle and the colonists utilized natural resources (wood) for construction and agriculture demanded a chemical reworking of the soil in order to make it fertile



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for alien plants brought from the future. Therefore, Terra Nova colony constitutes a distinctly human construction whose origin is based on ­colonial-technological alterations of the environment rather than being a “natural” place. While this process is never critically reflected on, narratives, however, problematize the construction of the colony as a place through the relationship between the colonists and native species of the Cretaceous. The series includes an episode that focuses on the settlers’ disruption of the natural habitat of a subspecies of pterosaurs (“Instinct”). In a central narrative twist, Dr. Malcolm Wallace displaces the dominant settler view of the pterosaurs as invaders who attack the colony. The scientific evidence of egg shells buried underneath Terra Nova suggests that the pterosaurs display what ecologists refer to as “site fidelity” (Gautestad 2), a periodical return to a certain known site or place, in this case their mating and breeding ground (“Instinct”). Two points are noteworthy about this change of perspective. First, the episode questions the ­human-animal boundary established by Western humanist philosophy such as Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” dictum which defines the human against the “unthinking” ­non-human (Vint, Animal Alterity 4) and Heidegger’s claim that Dasein only exists in human beings (18). The pterosaurs display a ­place-consciousness and a biological ­place-attachment of their own. The awareness that the colonists are the ones invading the habitat of the pterosaurs entails a rethinking of ­human-animal relations by introducing an alternative vantage point. This SF perspective “put[s] ourselves in the place of the animal and [makes us] experience the world from an estranged point of view” (Vint, Animal Alterity 15). This radical decentering of the human moves toward a companion species relationship. This term describes a changed relation between ­non-human species and humans. Donna Haraway specifies companion species relationships as ones of mutual exchange and respect for the respective Other in a “world of becoming with” (19, italics added) the ­non-human instead of excluding it or dominating it. In the episode, a companion species relationship ultimately replaces Taylor’s plan of annihilating the “attackers.” Terra Nova scientists synthesize pterosaur mating pheromones and manage to lure the pterosaurs to a new breeding ground, guaranteeing a ­side-by-side living for both species.10 Second, this episode shifts toward a more inclusive redefinition of place. Place is usually defined as a human construction: Space turns into place by human habitation and the attribution of human values (Ryan, Foote, Azaryahu 7), and is symbolically coded by humans (Lefebvre 17). However, places, i.e., “centers of felt value where biological needs, such

102 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio as these for food, water, rest, and procreation, are satisfied” are also constructed by animals, although they rely on a different perceptual apparatus (Tuan 4). The episode redefines place as a product of both human and ­non-human perspectives. As Massey highlights, places can become sites of “throwntogetherness” in which different perspectives on place are brought together without subordinating one view to another (151). In this case, place simultaneously encompasses the colony as a home for the humans and a pterosaur breeding ground. This multiplicity of vantage points on the same place is also reinforced by juxtaposing point of view shots from the perspective of the colonists and the pterosaurs: Terra Nova becomes a site of exchange, encounter, and multiplicity in which the same place is coded differently but in which companion species also live together, occupying the same ecosystem. Despite opening up of a sense of place across species, Terra Nova colony constitutes a literal and conceptual regression to the local. Heise emphasizes that a sense of place rhetoric is no longer tenable in the contemporary globalized and interconnected world of the ­t wenty-first century (Heise 54). She argues for an “­eco-cosmopolitanism” (59)—“a more nuanced understanding of how both local cultural and ecological systems are imbricated in global ones” (59). Interestingly, time travel in Terra Nova eliminates the global and literally ­re-localizes conceptions of space/place and makes a sense of place useful again. In the Cretaceous past, the local has supplanted the global of 2149 in the form of a single colony. However, notions of a traditional sense of place are questioned through the Sixers and also the pterosaurs who employ alternative conceptualizations of place. As both the colonists and the Sixers constantly engage each other, notions of space(s), places, and the sense of place are constantly renegotiated. This process resonates with Doreen Massey’s claim that space (and also place) is “always in process” (Massey 11) and can be ­re-signified again and again.

The ­Wilderness-Civilization-Binary and Terra Nova Colony as a Natural City While Terra Nova creates ­neo-frontier spaces across different species, the series nevertheless relies on a wilderness/civilization binary but also rethinks SF frontier relationships between the human and the ­non-human environment. My analysis focuses on “the sublime” and the “natural city.” The philosophical concept of the sublime refers to an experience which involves an encounter with something that defies human capacities for description and apprehension (Shaw 1–3), e.g., the vastness and grandeur of a landscape (Shaw 5). The sublime possesses



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the power to question colonial notions of mastery over the ­non-human as it emerges in a “moment when thought trembles on the edge of extinction” (Shaw 148). Still, this moment ultimately reinforces human dominance over nature as the human looker masters this experience (Shaw 6). In contrast, Terra Nova’s representation of wilderness spaces draws on the sublime but tweaks it by resituating humans as a small part of a vast ecosystem and by rejecting a colonial mastery over nature. The concept of the “natural city” has recently been introduced by environmental philosophers and urban planners/geographers, bringing together diverse visions of urban spaces which no longer embrace the ­long-standing city/nature binary (Stefanovic and Scharper 4; Stefanovic 23; Cameron 36). Instead, scholars propose to organize cities as sites which “integrate urban and ecological concerns in a sustainable manner” (Stefanovic and Scharper 4). The concept acknowledges the inextricability of urban spaces and natural systems (Stefanovic 29). It replaces a functional relation between city and nature with a sustainability relation, i.e., adapting human life and built structures to accommodate natural systems rather than destroying nature in order to construct “civilization” (Cobb 191). The natural city becomes a productive way for reading Terra Nova colony: First, the natural city speaks to elements of the SF frontier myth (democratic ­s elf-government, ­s elf-sufficiency, localism) which also shape Terra Nova colony. Second, a focus on sustainability allows for identifying how the colony differs from traditional SF frontier spaces and their (colonial) domination of nature and ecosystems. While Terra Nova reshapes a notion of place, the series still engages with the wilderness/civilization binary. In the frontier myth, wilderness—while providing “free land”—is coded negatively as something that imposes obstacles to the colonizers. As Lehan notes, the frontier embraces “a natural tendency to see life as a struggle between human will and the environment” (8), a conception inflected by Puritan beliefs which coded wilderness as the site of evil (Lehan 8) and of fear and danger (Cronon 70–71; Garrard 68). All of these beliefs underpin the settlers’ construction of wilderness. Commander Taylor declares the wilderness “off limits” as it is “slasher territory” (“Genesis”). This justification equates wilderness with “wild” animals, here carnivorous dinosaurs.11 The series therefore presents wilderness as dangerous to the colonists. This view is reinforced by narratives of colonists venturing into the jungle: Episodes often feature a violent clash between colonists and carnivorous Nycoraptors, Carnotauri, Acceraptors and Ancestral Komodo Dragons (“Genesis,” “Instinct,” “The Runaway,” “Proof,” “Now You See Me”).

104 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Videographic representations of wilderness spaces and of animal attacks contribute to this: Point of view shots emphasize the impenetrability and unknowability of the jungle vegetation—hiding the presence of dinosaurs. The series frames encounters through narrative tropes, videography, and ­mise-en-scène from the horror genre. In “Genesis,” teenagers who venture into the wilderness to have “fun” are stuck in a rover at night and are attacked by Acceraptors. Apart from the nightly setting, the scene relies on the spatial ­set-up of the traditional horror film by utilizing a small, enclosed space (Creed 55; Clover 198). While it provides shelter from attack, it fixes the characters in space as they cannot escape. Point of view shots create the effect of the Acceraptors snapping at the camera/viewer (a “shock effect” often employed in the horror genre), and the fight is accompanied by flickering lighting and a hectic handheld camera framing. In this case, the narrative scenario—a group of teenagers under attack by killers which are even referred to as “slashers”—also evokes the slasher movie which dwells on “the systematic slaughter of attractive young people” (Williams qtd. in Sapolsky, Molitor and Luque 29). The combination of recurring narratives of dangerous encounters between colonists and carnivores and the employment of horror tropes serves to construct wilderness as an exclusive Other to the supposedly safe colony. These encounters serve to construct the main characters as frontier heroes. The frontier hero has been defined as an individual who displays “coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind” (Turner 226–227). This model is also followed by the hero in the Western who displays “extraordinary ­s elf-sufficiency facing problems that ordinary men would be either unable or too fearful to handle” (Den Uyl 31). In Terra Nova, the characters triumph over their animal “opponents” due to human ingenuity—Taylor and Mira construct weapons from natural materials (“Now You See Me”); Taylor knows about the Ancient Komodo Dragon being easily intimidated (“Proof ”); Maddy and Mark disguise themselves with stink leaves, knowing that it will trick dinosaurs’ hunting instinct (“Nightfall”)—and/or superior technology (­laser-aimed rifles in “Genesis,” sonic weaponry and a mine perimeter around the colony). Wilderness spaces therefore provide a dangerous testing ground for the frontier heroes. They ultimately highlight their mastery over “wild” animals due to exceptional skills and knowledge and reinforce a longstanding humanist belief in the superiority of human reason which fuels “illusions of invincibility” (Plumwood 3). This view is, however, also challenged in other episodes, e.g., in the episode “Instinct” which has already been discussed.



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However, the series also presents wilderness spaces as sites for leisure activities for the colonists (swimming and hiking in “Genesis,” fishing in “Proof,” dating and picnicking in “Nightfall”). Here, wilderness is framed as a place for recreation. This alternative vantage point is tied to the frontier myth (78) but also to wilderness conservation efforts and Transcendentalist thinking in the nineteenth century, which applauded the venturing of the individual into wilderness (Garrard 73–76). Wilderness is imaginatively transformed into a place and is endowed with emotional values. This view is highlighted by ­h igh-angle extreme long shots of the jungle and the Falls (“Genesis,” “Now You See Me”). These sites are defined by their appealing color qualities (the extreme ­g reen-ness of jungle and the ­white-and-blue-ness of the waterfalls which contrast with the bleak gray and brown colors of 2149). This framing is often combined with character experiences of awe, hinting at a potentially sublime experience of nature which is beyond human understanding (Shaw 2–3). For instance, Josh Shannon displays this the first time he visits the Falls as he has never encountered any ­non-human-modified environment in 2149 (“Genesis”). While the characters’ encounters with the ­non-human world are limited to a ­quasi-touristic frame, this emphasis on the sublime vastness/grandeur of the environment modifies traditional views of wilderness. As Bould and Vint note, the sublime in SF can take on a critical temporal dimension that can transform colonial relationships between the human and the ­non-human: [The sublime in SF works as] a material realm of incomprehensible vastness and complexity, with great depth of archaeological and geological time, reaching back through history to a much larger prehistory before the evolution of mankind, and positing a similarly ­post-historic future after mankind [13].

Bould and Vint emphasize that the sublime creates “a material realm of incomprehensible vastness and complexity”: In Terra Nova, the extreme long shots and the perceived vastness of the jungle open up these sites toward a more complex understanding of these spaces and the colonists: The colonists are just a small part in a vast ecosystem which they do no longer dominate. Bould and Vint argue that the SF sublime promotes an awareness of the historicity of natural environments, their ­pre-existence to human evolution and the certainty that these spaces will still exist after humanity has gone extinct. In Terra Nova, wilderness spaces literally exist before the advent of humankind in 85 million BC but time travel displaces the colonists from a ­post-natural future into these very spaces. It

106 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio enables a sublime encounter with wilderness spaces which are at once humanity’s past, its present, and its future. The vastness/grandeur and a complex temporality here construct ­neo-frontier spaces: The jungle hints at vaster ecosystems and the colonists’ continued embeddedness within them. Wilderness is no longer the “shrinking resource” (Carver and Fritz viii) which it is in 2149 and the real world today nor is it a lost ideal of the past (as in the frontier myth). Instead, it functions as a dwelling place for the colonists in the narrative present and future. Terra Nova presents wilderness spaces as being located outside the colony. This conceptualization seems to reaffirm the traditional belief in the city as the “explicit antitype of nature” (Cameron 36) which also underpins the frontier myth in popular culture. The binaries of civilization/wilderness and city/nature do play a role in the series but the colony interestingly presents an integration of nature and the city in terms of a “natural city” (Stefanovic and Scharper 4). In The Natural City: ­Re-Envisioning the Built Environment, the editors define the natural city as a place which rethinks urban planning and construction in a way that “acknowledge[s] the need to integrate urban and ecological concerns in a sustainable manner” (Stefanovic and Scharper 4). Environmental philosopher Ingrid Leman Stefanovic argues for moving away from approaching cities as a “technical ordering or residential, commercial, and industrial complexes” (30). She advocates for perceiving them as “dwelling places” (30) which recognize human embeddedness in natural systems and embrace a sustainable way of living (16). According to her, a natural city requires the embedding of open green spaces in the city, a focus on local rather than ­export-oriented food production, and “alternative transportation systems” (18). Terra Nova colony integrates both built spaces (residential areas, the command center, the hospital, the research labs) but also open “green” spaces and a huge variety of plant life. Trees, bushes, and flowers are not amassed in artificial sites such as parks which are created to conserve an isolated natural space that is deemed worth protecting. Establishing shots instead reveal that plants suffuse the colony. While the residential areas include regulated and bordered gardens (“Genesis”), larger trees are not placed in regular geometrical patterns. The houses themselves are integrated with plants which do not only surround them but also cover them (“Genesis,” “The Runaway”). Therefore, the colony presents an alternative arrangement of spaces which counters the frontier mythical process of wilderness being replaced by civilization. The representation of the colony as a natural city destabilizes colonial conceptualizations of the relationship between the human and ­non-human. From an ecological vantage point, road construction



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constituted one of the most invasive and destructive processes in the colonization enterprise with roads opening wilderness areas up for inhabitation and the industrial exploitation of oil, gas, and minerals (Carver and Fritz 8). Terra Nova colony is marked by artificial roads within the colony and paths lead from the time portal to the colony (“Genesis”). However, their construction relied on natural materials such as pebbles and soil instead of massive industrial transformations such as producing asphalt/concrete and using machinery such as bulldozers and asphalt mixing machines. Moreover, Terra Nova’s system of transportation differs from the motorized transportation in 2149 (trains, subway, cars). As theologian and environmentalist John B. Cobb, Jr., notes, a natural city should no longer rely on unsustainable ­petroleum-based systems but instead should shift to alternative modes of transportation such as using bicycles (195–198). He also advocates for redesigning city architectures so that residents live in close proximity to their place of work. This counteracts pollution and the environmental strain created by commuting (198). In Terra Nova, the limited size of the colony allows for short travel distances which inhabitants cross on foot. Although a small number of rovers exist, they are primarily used for traveling to and from the research outposts in the jungle (“Instinct,” “What Remains,” “Bylaw,” “Within”). Motorized transport is replaced by walking which is sustainable and has the effect that the colonists experience their environment as a dwelling place more intimately. As such, Terra Nova as a natural city departs from the SF frontier’s pushing of technological progress at the cost of the natural environment (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 173). The colony’s construction and use of spaces can be read in terms of an urban ecological sustainability perspective, i.e., finding “ways to live within the context given us by nature, destroying as little as possible” (Cobb, Jr., 191). Cobb identifies key elements of sustainable urbanization—­s elf-sufficiency in meeting citizens’ basic needs and energy production, small size, the use of sustainable technologies, democratic and fully participatory political and economic systems, and a sustainability community (201). All of these points apply to Terra Nova. It is a small city and the construction of roads and transportation follows sustainability principles. The citizens use sustainable technologies, e.g., electric power cells for the rovers. Energy is gained by renewable energy sources: Wind parks generate electricity, solar energy is collected via membranes in the roofs of the buildings, and retractable ceilings allow for the optimal usage of natural daylight (“Genesis”). According to production designer Carlos Barbosa and his team, the combination of these measures guarantees a full ­self-sufficiency of the

108 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio colony, “making every structure independent and ­self-reliable” (Barbosa et al.). The colony leaves behind the unsustainable industrial spaces of 2149. It embraces a radically different usage of space which turns away from a colonial exploitation of natural spaces and the construction of highly industrialized cities by embracing green technologies. In a similar vein, the representation of a biodiversity agricultural system in Terra Nova ­re-conceptualizes the relationship between the colonists and the “land,” departing from the ­i ndustrial-capitalist paradigms of SF frontier fiction (Abott, Frontiers Past and Future 36–58).12 The use of fields in the colony does not follow ­t wenty-first-century agriculture in which ­large-scale monocultures of a single crop are tended to by farmers seeking to export their products globally (Cobb, Jr., 199; Keller and Brummer 483). As David R. Keller and E. Charles Brummer point out, contemporary agriculture still follows mechanistic metaphysics of the Enlightenment in which nature only derives value by being used by humans in order to produce profitable products (482). It is, moreover, fused with a capitalist production paradigm which rejects ecological concerns and incites farmers to aim for the “greatest possible quantity of agricultural product” (483). Keller and Brummer advocate for a ­post-mechanistic agricultural system in which various crops are planted which allows for nutrient cycling and a more stable agricultural ecosystem which has a higher degree of food security (486–487). Terra Nova is in fact opposed to the industrial production paradigm of 2149. It is marked by a sustainability paradigm that serves to make the colony ­self-sufficient (producing enough food for survival but no surplus to be exported). Terra Nova employs a biodiversity agricultural system. The layout of the fields suggests the adaptation of ­three-field crop rotation, a system that was already in use in the Middle Ages. Neighboring parcels of land were planted with different crops: One field was devoted to winter crop (e.g., wheat or rye) whereas others contained spring crops (e.g., barley or oats), with the type of crop rotating from one field to another on a seasonal basis (Wiglesworth 6). This mode of planting guarantees an efficient seasonal use of the land without exhausting its nutritional organisms and increases local productivity (6). In addition, Terra Nova’s system does not depend on integrated ranching which Turner described as the “exploitation of the beasts” (213). Agriculture is conducted by farmers without relying on imported animals to work the land. While this might be a ­side-effect of the environmental conditions of 2149 (animals might have gone extinct), the ­a nimal-free mode of agriculture further ties into the sustainability principles discussed before. Ultimately, the agricultural use of land in Terra Nova does not regard nature as a valuable resource to be exploited but as a system integral to the colony’s continued survival.



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Terra Nova’s agricultural system aims at reducing the human impact on nature, articulating an awareness of the “Ecological Footprint” (Wackernagel and Rees xi). Introduced by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees, the Ecological Footprint refers to an accounting tool which allows “to estimate the resource consumption and waste assimilation requirements of a defined human population or economy in terms of a corresponding productive land area” (Wackernagel and Rees 9). Based on population size, material consumption by individual, and available ecological land on a global scale, Wackernagel and Rees show that human beings increasingly depend on more land for the production of food and energy while the amount of “ecologically productive land” continually decreases (13–15). Recent calculations demonstrate that an individual North American requires 11.5 global acres of land to maintain his/her industrial consumer lifestyle (Global Footprint Network 22). In Terra Nova, a population of 1,000 inhabitants occupies a limited space (“Occupation”/“Resistance”). The total requirement of ecologically productive land is tailored toward the sustenance of this number of citizens. Moreover, inhabitants do no longer follow an industrial consumer lifestyle: Basic amenities such as housing and food are provided for all citizens, food is produced locally and ­non-biodegradable waste is kept at a minimum. As a consequence, the Ecological Footprint of the colony is significantly lower than the one of 2149 or of the ­real-world present. As such, the representation of Terra Nova colony holds critical potential—it implicitly questions contemporary U.S. and world politics in which the Ecological Footprint does not play a major role in political ­decision-making (Galli et al. 121–122).

Interdependent Human/­Non-Human Ecosystems The representation of environmental spaces in Terra Nova reshapes the SF frontier through a clash between imagined spaces and lived spaces. The series draws on the frontier trope of a return to nature and establishes a sense of place, tied to “starting over” and working the land locally as an agrarian community. Wilderness spaces outside the colony are represented as dangerous spaces through narratives (frontier hero encounters with dinosaurs) and formal means (horror genre tropes and ­mise-en-scène), and nature is perceived as an Other to the “civilization” of the colony. The representation of lived spaces undercuts these frontier mythical conventions as the series reshapes traditional conceptualizations of place through interspecies relationships, sustainability relations, and a transformation of the sublime: While Terra Nova colony is a ­human-made place imposed on natural ecosystems, narratives

110 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio enable a rethinking of place as an interactional product, made and shared between the human and the ­non-human. Terra Nova also breaks down a dualism between wilderness and the city: Sustainability relations and an awareness of interconnectivity with natural ecosystems redefine the traditional SF frontier relationship between the human and ­non-human via integrating built and natural places; changed modes of transport, living, and construction; a sustainable production of energy and food; and an economical relation between population and the use of land. Additionally, the series’ engagement with the vastness and historicity of the sublime departs from traditional SF frontier colonial relationships as ecosystems are no longer under human control; i.e., the colonists do not stand outside wilderness but are a small part of it. Therefore, the series reshapes the relationship between the human and the ­non-human in terms of relationality, interconnectivity, and interdependence.

­Neo-Frontier Climate Change Riskscapes and Capitalist ­World-Making In contrast to the environment in the Cretaceous, the urban spaces of 2149 are marked by an advanced stage of climate change. One important difference to Star Trek and Firefly lies in the fact that these spaces can be read as riskscapes.13 Riskscapes locate risks in both local and global territories in which various different risks overlap and interact with each other (­Müller-Mahn xviii). While Star Trek and Firefly focus on individual technological risks, Terra Nova’s 2149 constitutes a complex riskscape which is shaped by the interplay of climate change risks—air pollution, overpopulation, and slumification. In doing so, the series engages with the ­world-risk society and environmental risks of the ­t wenty-first century. The riskscapes of 2149 move beyond the “urban frontier” (Lehan xii) in popular culture. The urban frontier conceptualizes cities in terms of a relatively homogeneous space—good examples for this are cities in cyberpunk SF. In contrast, the Chicago of 2149 is marked by complex heterogeneous riskscapes which interrogate the interplay between risks, imagined and lived spaces, and capitalism as a system that structures urban spaces. The series’ focus on capitalist ­world-making establishes a connection to the historical frontier in which the bringing of “civilization” was connected to capitalist agendas. At the same time, 2149 holds critical potential for questioning capitalism as a system of thought and spatial practice in the ­t wenty-first century. Terra Nova employs an “if



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this goes on” scenario (Canavan, “Introduction” 1–21). By extrapolating from contemporary climate change problems and tying them to capitalist urban spaces, Terra Nova participates in the cultural work of “SF [which] distances us from the contemporary ­world-system only to return us to it, so that we can see it with fresh eyes” (Canavan, “Preface” xi).

Climate Crisis, Risk Narratives and ­Neo-Frontier Spaces The representation of riskscapes in Terra Nova differs from Defiance and The 100. In Terra Nova, the spaces of 2149 constitute both the result and the symptom of an ongoing climate change crisis. The neo-frontier riskscapes of 2149 hence present risk as a structural component of the narrative world instead of something which comes into being through a catastrophe. While Defiance and The 100 construct riskscapes through future risk scenarios (an alien invasion in Defiance; a global nuclear catastrophe in The 100), Terra Nova engages with ­a lready-present risks in the ­t wenty-first century and extends them into a speculative future. This allows for the series to interrogate the global environmental crisis which already affects all aspects of human life across political, social, imagined, and lived spaces today (Buell, From Apocalypse to Way of Life, xv). This subchapter examines 2149 by recourse to the concepts of “crisis” and the “risk narrative.” Crisis derives from the Greek krinein which means “to separate, judge, decide” (Crosthwaite 1). It refers to “a situation in which important decisions involving threat and opportunity have to be made in a particular short time” (Shaluf et al. 24). Recently, crisis has often been conceptualized as an ongoing process rather than a singular event (catastrophe): As Fredric Buell argues, “environmental crisis has become part of the uncertainty in which people nowadays dwell” (xviii). This “dwelling in crisis” becomes useful for reading Terra Nova. The riskscapes of 2149 reshape urban spaces through different climate change risks rather than by drawing on traditional SF frontier risks which are seen to be inherent in specific environments (Abbott, Frontier Past and Future 12–13) or technologies (as in Firefly or Defiance). The concept of the “risk narrative” designates a form of narrative which interrogates the cultural, political, and social meaning of risks in the world risk society (Mayer 501–502). Mayer identifies two versions—“risk narratives of anticipation” and “risk narrative[s] of catastrophe” (505). Risk narratives of anticipation focus on worlds in which an

112 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio environmental collapse still lies in the future and realism functions as a mode of engagement with risks (505). Risk narratives of catastrophe are set in worlds in which climate collapse has already occurred and its effects are presented through a dystopian mode (505–506). In contrast to conventional SF apocalypses which rely on “definitive End scenarios” (Rosen xv), Terra Nova envisions an ongoing post-apocalyptic crisis as a result of climate change. SF often relies on catastrophe—“an event that is believed to have a very low probability of materializing but that if it does materialize will produce a harm so great and sudden as to seem discontinuous with the flow of events that preceded it” (Posner 6)—in the form of alien invasions and machine takeovers (Pharr, Clark, and Firestone 6). In contrast, Terra Nova extrapolates from the “ongoing, prolifically diversified, multiform global and environmental meltdown” (Buell, From Apocalypse to Way of Life xv) that defines the present. Not unlike today, Earth’s inhabitants of 2149 dwell in environmental crisis which constitutes “a feature of present normality, not an immanent, radical rupture of it” (177) as would be case in a traditional SF apocalypse. As such, the ­neo-frontier spaces of 2149 draw on “risk narratives of catastrophe” (Mayer 506). Risk narratives of catastrophe “explore worlds in which climate change has caused drastic, devastating changes in the ecosystemic, socioeconomic, political, and cultural orders” (506). Earth is depicted as a world in environmental crisis and ecological changes have fundamentally altered human social and cultural lives (506–507). In Terra Nova, global climate change risks become a means for reshaping SF frontier spaces into complex spaces which are dominated by the ubiquity and effects of risks on a global scale rather than colonial concerns. While the representation of traditional SF frontier spaces takes recourse to either the past or imagined futures, Terra Nova’s Earth in 2149 explicitly engages with the present by linking environmental crisis to late capitalism. The spaces of 2149 are intimately tied to an advanced stage of capitalism within the ­so-called “Anthropocene.” The Anthropocene refers to a new geological period first proposed by chemist Paul J. Crutzen and marine scientist Eugene F. Stoermer in 2000 (Chakrabarty 209). The term acknowledges that human beings have become “a geological agent through our own decisions” especially in terms of industrialization and environmental pollution which have a ­world-altering impact by propelling an irreversible change of the climate (Chakrabarty 210).14 Terra Nova’s time travel narrative allows for the series to contrast pre–Anthropocene natural spaces unmarked by human industrial activity in the Cretaceous with Chicago in 2149 which is dominated by manifold industries (“Genesis,” “Occupation”/“Resistance”).



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By setting up this contrast, the series constructs a new type of risk narrative. The series participates in “risk narratives of catastrophe” (Mayer 506) in representing 2149 as a dystopian world in climate crisis but the narrative moves from 2149 to the Cretaceous which serves as a point of refuge from the risks of 2149 and allows for “starting over” in a different kind of (­neo-frontier) space. As Mayer highlights, risk narratives that focus on climate change usually take two forms—“risk narratives of anticipation” or “risk narrative[s] of catastrophe” (505). Risk narratives of anticipation involve an anticipative management of risk (i.e., before a catastrophe takes place). Risk narratives of catastrophe focus on processes of risk management in a ­post-catastrophic, destroyed world (505–507). In contrast, Terra Nova posits a third alternative— managing risks by time traveling to a space and time in which climate change risks are ­non-existent. Terra Nova constructs a “risk narrative of escape” which sets out as a “risk narrative of catastrophe” but then draws on frontier mythical notions of escape, not an escape by moving into new spaces in the present (as the SF frontier would have it) but by moving in both space and time.

­Neo-Frontier Spaces as Riskscapes: Climate Change and a Network of Risks in 2149 Terra Nova’s 2149 presents ­neo-frontier spaces as complex riskscapes in which the risk of air pollution, the risk of overpopulation, and the risk of slumification (of urban spaces) are brought together. By connecting these risks, Terra Nova does not just reshape SF frontier spaces through risk but reflects upon ­t wenty-first-century life in the world risk society. The ­neo-frontier spaces of 2149 break down the borders between the ­non-fictional world and the fictional world. At the same time, the series criticizes capitalism as a global system which structures spaces in monolithic ways that follow ideologies of economic growth.15 Terra Nova therefore breaks with SF frontier spaces through engaging with the complexities of climate change in the contemporary world. This subchapter draws on the concepts of the “riskscape” and “economic growth.” The concept of the riskscape brings together risk(s) with landscapes (­Müller-Mahn ­x vii-xviii). Riskscapes can be defined as “landscapes of ­multi-layered and interacting risks that represent both the materiality of real risks, and the perceptions, knowledge, and imaginations of the people who live in that landscape and continuously shape and reshape its contours through their daily activities” (­Müller-Mahn xviii). ­Müller-Mahn and Everts highlight three important elements: First, they are perspectival constructs whose meaning differs based

114 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio on one’s point of view. Second, perceptions and ways of living in riskscapes are negotiated ­i n-between individuals and the larger social body. Third, riskscapes are never fixed but are constantly created through spatial and social practices by individuals and societies (25–26). These points become useful for examining the interactions between risks and spaces, between perceptions of risks and of spaces by different characters/groups, and of how the series stages ways of living within these riskscapes. The ­n eo-frontier riskscapes of 2149 are shaped by economic growth. Economic growth constitutes an ideology that underpins capitalism as an economic system (Barry 129). Capitalism is oriented toward accumulating capital and maximizing profit rather than improving the lives of citizens (132). The pursuit of growth—i.e., the continued desire to make more profit—is considered as essential for the development of society (Barry 132; Canavan, “Introduction” 5). Economic growth can be tied to specific modes of ­space-making, in particular of what Lefebvre calls “abstract space” (149). Capitalist thinking aims to create an abstract space which is ahistorical and requires an artificial homogenization that often includes a disappearance of nature (49–50). Framing my analysis via economic growth and abstract space allows for reading how the series engages critically with capitalism as something that structures both physical and social spaces. The world of 2149 suffers from an advanced stage of climate change due to hypercapitalist production and is shaped by the interplay of environmental risks—­i ndustrially-propelled air pollution interacts with the risk of overcrowding/overpopulation and the risk of urban slumification. All three risks are interconnected and reinforce each other: Industrial production causes the advanced stage of climate change in the series. At the same time, the increase in population demands the production of more goods and technologies in order to survive, which in turn propel climate change. Overpopulation strains urban infrastructures, and the increasing number of people produces more waste which leads to a slumification of cities.16 Air pollution constitutes one of the major risks in 2149. This risk is visualized in the opening shots of the series: After a ­z oom-in over the moon the camera settles on an establishing shot of Earth in space. Earth’s atmosphere is dominated by thick layers of clouds and the stratosphere has a ­sand-colored hue that signifies excessive levels of air pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.17 It suggests that the atmosphere has become anoxic; i.e., it contains higher levels of carbon dioxide than oxygen (Metcalfe and Derwent 2). The establishing shot draws on a cognitively estranged version



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of Earth as an icon. As Ursula Heise points out, the most iconic image of Earth was taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968 and was used by the media and environmentalists to represent Earth as the “Blue Planet,” a precious “jewel” in the blackness of space (22). The “Blue Planet” counters humanity’s sense of mastery and ­s elf-importance ­v is-à-vis the natural environment: “From space, we see a small and fragile ball dominated not by human activity and edifice but a pattern of clouds, oceans, greenery, and soils” (Brundtland Report qtd. in Heise 23). Terra Nova’s establishing shot instead emphasizes human activity: The polluted atmosphere is a result of industrial production and chemical use, turning the “Blue Planet” into a “Brown Planet.” The “Blue Planet” icon has taken on environmental meanings such as signifying the fragility of Earth’s ecosystems but also its resilience to human interference (Heise 24). In contrast, Terra Nova’s “Brown Planet” signifies an irreversible climate crisis. This introduction is accompanied by the announcement: “AT THE DAWN OF THE 22ND CENTURY THE WORLD IS ON THE VERGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL COLLAPSE. MANKIND’S ONLY HOPE FOR SURVIVAL LIES 85 MILLION YEARS IN THE PAST” (“Genesis”). The announcement suggests that Earth’s ecosystems are no longer just fragile but near a catastrophic ­breaking-point which will make Earth uninhabitable. This risk can no longer be managed but can only be escaped from by ­t ime-traveling to the past. The framing differs significantly from Firefly: While Firefly participates in the traditional SF frontier risk management of colonizing outer space as a “solution” to terrestrial risks, Terra Nova represents the riskscapes of 2149 as unmanageable in the narrative present: The series therefore rejects the SF frontier staple of a “­techno-fix” for planetary risks.18 Terra Nova’s “Brown Planet” emphasizes the global effects of climate change as atmospheric pollution does not only present a risk for the urbanized West but for the entire world. Popular culture often utilizes “totalizing images of a world without refuge from toxic penetration” (Buell, “Toxic Discourse” 648). Current climatological research suggests that around 1.6 billion people are at risk from the effects of air pollution on a global scale (Elsom 2). Terra Nova’s “Brown Planet” extrapolates from this, with air pollution threatening humanity in its entirety in 2149. Earth emerges as a global riskscape: Climate change risks affect the entire planet, irrespective of national borders or local politics. As such, Terra Nova’s focus on Earth as a global riskscape presents a countercurrent to regionalist tendencies in SF frontier fiction in which the American West becomes the (only) local site for speculative narratives (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 130–150; Katerberg 3). Terra Nova focuses on local effects of climate change in a

116 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio defamiliarized Chicago but also complicates the relationships between climate change risks, the local, and the global. In the series, the city is located in a dry desert in which Lake Michigan is notably absent and skyscrapers are partially hidden from view by thick ­yellow-brown smog clouds. The ­mise-en-scène extrapolates from Chinese cities such as Kashgar, Baoding, Xingtai, and Shijiazhuang. These cities show extremely high levels of air pollution which average above 100 micrograms per cubic meter every year (Gardner 6–7). News imagery of smog in these cities resembles the imagery which Terra Nova employs here. This correlation between the Chicago of 2149 and Chinese cities of the present even becomes more explicit during Jim’s escape as the only other person shown in a close up in the subway is a woman of Asian origin who is wearing a rebreather (“Genesis”). While this scene denotes the multicultural community of Chicago, it implicitly engages with news imagery from Chinese cities that is omnipresent in Western media. Terra Nova here constructs ­neo-frontier riskscapes as global and local at the same time, articulating what Heise calls a “sense of planet” (59). The series therefore breaks with the regionalism that shapes recent SF frontier fiction (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 130–150; Katerberg 3). The smog seems to suggest that Chicago presents a riskscape which affects every single inhabitant to an equal degree. The series, however, establishes “social risk positions” (Beck, Risk Society 23). Ulrich Beck argues against aligning risk positions with class positions as smog affects both upper classes and working classes (36). In contrast, Terra Nova’s Chicago depends on a social and physical segregation of classes. The working classes and the ­m iddle-class are dwelling in ­r un-down buildings which do not provide adequate protection from the smog. In contrast, the upper classes and wealthy elites who profit from hypercapitalist production reside in domes which are ­climate-controlled and hermetically sealed from the outside. Health risks such as ­pulmo-replasia endanger only the ­working-class and ­m iddle-class who cannot afford to live in the domes. Again, this extrapolates from current global developments as urban air pollution causes premature deaths every year and hundred thousands contract acute or chronical illnesses (Elsom 2). Although the risk of contracting respiratory diseases is managed by the sale of rebreathers, Jim notes that “even a rebreather isn’t enough anymore” (“Genesis”). In Terra Nova, smog does not—as Beck suggests—function as a social democratic leveler similar to the frontier in the frontier myth (Lehan 7). Instead, it fractures urban spaces in decidedly undemocratic ways, with risk becoming a means for class splitting rather than social unity.



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The series ties this distribution of risks to logics of capitalist production. The wealthy business elites in 2149 are driven by economic growth (“Occupation”/“Resistance”). As John Barry notes, economic growth constitutes a structural requirement of capitalism: The accumulation of capital depends on the steady availability of resources which can be turned into an ­ever-increasing amount of goods through industrial production (134). Economic growth shapes 2149 as the city is dominated by industrial facilities, factories, and power plants. At the same time, pollution and the destruction of ecosystems, which are the result of these production processes, do not concern the elites as they perceive and conceive of Chicago in terms of “abstract space” (Lefebvre 49). Abstract space aims to blot out distinctions and creates an abstract, homogenous, unified space which is not the product of social interrelations but of “the centres of wealth and power” (49). In conjunction with the political power of the business elites, the cityscape constitutes a striated, fixed space which is unchanging. It ­re-inscribes the ideology of economic growth in architectural form, engaging in what Soja calls “the apparent innocent spatiality of social life” (Postmodern Geographies 8). Chicago can be read as a critique of economic growth and capitalist ­space-making, two processes which have shaped the SF frontier from its very beginnings (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 173–174; Wolfe, “Frontiers in Space” 258–262; Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 36–58). Nevertheless, the representation of the Shannon family becomes a means for the series to question economic growth. As ­Müller-Mahn and Everts note, riskscapes are always shaped by “controversial ­socio-spatial images of risk”; i.e., risk is perceived and acted upon differently depending on an individual’s ­s ocio-spatial position (26). While the risks of economic growth are ignored by the capitalist elites of 2149, the Shannons’ risk position in the city allows them to adopt a relational point of view: They realize that humanity is “eking what they can from a world that’s on its last breath” (“Genesis”). The capitalist elites/upper classes acknowledge this risk but do not shift to a sustainability approach to production and construction. Instead, the only risk that concerns them is the looming depletion of all natural resources which would halt economic growth. They manage this risk by opening up the Cretaceous which allows for exploiting another world (“Occupation”/“Resistance”). Risks and possibilities for risk management are therefore perceived differently by groups who occupy different spatial, social, and power positions: Riskscapes are not homogenous but are contested as the selection of relevant risks by individuals and groups hinges on different conceptual approaches (­capitalist-economic thinking vs. ­social-environmental thinking).

118 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Air pollution is also interwoven with the risk of overpopulation. Terra Nova’s Chicago extrapolates from unsustainable numbers of human beings on Earth which threaten the breakdown of natural ecosystems in the ­t wenty-first century (Hengeveld xi). The world population has experienced an upsurge from 2.5 billion in the 1970s to over 7 billion in the early 2000s (Hengeveld xii). Recent studies by the United Nations set the current world population at 7.6 billion with 11.2 billion projected for the year 2100 (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 1–2).19 The majority of the global population increase is located in cities (Barata et al. 192, Davis 2). Terra Nova depicts Chicago in terms of ­so-called “hypercities” (exceeding 20 million inhabitants) such as Jakarta, Dhaka, Karachi, and Shanghai (Davis 5). The representation of Chicago goes beyond depicting the city as an “urban frontier” (Lehan xii) in which capitalist “forces of greed, trickery, and selfinterest work with cunning and corrupting force” (153) by highlighting how riskscapes are shaped by demographic processes. The capitalist ­political-economic system of 2149 is inextricably linked to overpopulation. As such, the representation of Chicago reflects critically on urban realities in the ­t wenty-first century. At the same time, it reflects on the historical interplay between capitalism and overpopulation, taking into account that urbanization and industrialization were ­co-extensive processes since the eighteenth century (Scott 1). The series ties overpopulation to conditions of living by relying on slum imagery. Terra Nova’s representation of Chicago emphasizes its inadequate capacity to house masses of mostly poor inhabitants, which in turn exposes them to higher health risks. As Mike Davis notes, the increasing number of people has surpassed the construction capacities and availability of adequate housing in the East and global South, leading to an increasing slumification of cities (16–18). As a result, “the ­t wenty-first century urban world squats in squalor, surrounded by pollution, excrement, and decay” (19). Terra Nova employs a similar ­mise-en-scène as Jim moves through a narrow alleyway which is packed with poor people wearing rebreathers and thick blankets (“Genesis”). The scene calls attention to different ways of living which are tied to class and risk positions. While Jim belongs to the ­m iddle-class and can afford to inhabit an apartment, the working class and unemployed live as what Davis calls “­pavement-dwellers” (36). Their social/ physical segregation from the ­m iddle-class and the capitalist elites locates them into the ­city-wide slums. Slum conditions usually consist of “overcrowding, poor or informal housing, inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, and insecurity of tenure” (Davies 23). As such, the ­neo-frontier spaces of 2149 constitute a patchwork of spaces defined by



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different living conditions instead of a homogeneous “urban frontier” (Lehan 149–159). The representation of the city is marked by a clutter aesthetic which can be read as a critique of capitalist waste production. Alleyways are cluttered with ­human-produced, ­non-biodegradable waste. This increase in waste is not only an effect of overpopulation as more people equal more consumption and more waste (Hengeveld 54) but also of the capitalist construction of the city. As Vivian Sobchak points out, the representation of cities in SF movies often employs “excess scenography” (262)—an “abundance of things to look at [which] serves to inflate the value of the space that contains them, and emphasizes a particular kind of density and texture” (262). Terra Nova similarly employs a clutter aesthetic (an abundance of people and waste). However, its purpose is not to demonstrate spaces as possessing the capitalist power to accumulate things (Sobchak 262). Instead, Terra Nova’s clutter aesthetic critiques the very production of these things through capitalist processes as the production of waste “is the flip side of the coin of resource utilization” (Hengeveld xvi). All types of waste visible in the alleyway are derived from industrial production—plastic, paper packages, and industrial metal scrap. The series calls attention to how capitalist production pollutes the environment with industrial waste that cannot be decomposed through natural waste cycles. In contrast to the clutter aesthetic of the slums, individual apartments function as ­m icro-riskscapes that reconceptualize places through the ubiquity of risk(s). The Shannons inhabit an apartment in a skyscraper (“Genesis”). The ­mise-en-scène emphasizes its small size. It consists of a single room for five persons—extrapolating from, e.g., the chawls in Mumbai in which six people live in a single rented room of a size of 15 square meters (Davis 34). The room is presented as largely impersonal: The use of a denaturalizing camera filter and the interieur itself—metallic cupboards and storage containers, undecorated dirty metal walls, and the predominance of the color gray—draw attention to its artificiality and standardizedness. The living space not only reflects a capitalist functional logic in its design but suggests a loss of place and home. Places are “centers of felt value where biological needs, such as those for food, water, rest, and procreation are satisfied” (Tuan 4). The apartment does not fulfill these functions anymore as the ­mise-en-scène codes it as a constraining, ­prison-like space. Biological needs are no longer satisfied as air pollution and changes in temperatures have led to a loss of food diversity, with oranges having become a scarce and rare commodity (“Genesis”).20 The apartment constitutes a ­m icro-riskscape which encapsulates

120 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio several overlapping risks in one site. These risks alter social spaces in turn, as living is inextricably linked to managing these risks on a daily basis. The series stages overpopulation and responses to it as controversial by contrasting perceptions of riskscapes and risk management procedures by the government and by families in 2149. Overpopulation is addressed by Chicago’s authorities as a strict population policy limits families to a maximum of two children (“Genesis”). This resembles the “­one-child policy” in China which was installed in 1979 in order to halt overpopulation and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (Hulme 270–271). While this measure has remained controversial in political and cultural debates (275), some scholars recognize the necessity to limit population numbers in order to guarantee humanity’s future existence (Hulme 274, Hengeveld xvii). In contrast, the Shannons reject the ­t wo-child policy by having a third child. The perception of overpopulation and adequate responses to it therefore differ between the public and the capitalist government. As ­Müller-Mahn and Everts emphasize, riskscapes are continuously “enacted, depending on the diverse ways in which people make sense of ‘signposts’ and navigate through their riskscape” (28). The Shannons and the government navigate the same riskscape differently: While the government uses a statistical and (bio)political approach for managing overpopulation, the Shannons rely on their own personal experiential perspective, a perspective intimately connected to affect and emotions (Slovic xxxi–xxxiii). Jim justifies the Shannons’ decision by the emotional need for a third child (“Genesis,” “Nightfall”). Risk is simultaneously approached on different spatial scales—the physical space of the city by the government and the social space of the family by the Shannons: These incongruent approaches clash with each other and can only be “resolved” by imposing the government’s risk rationale on citizens through the law (“Genesis”). Risk here functions as a means to counter the homogenous geography which the capitalist elite/government seeks to edify: Risk management is not singularly the domain of the government but also of citizens who conceive of overpopulation as well as its spatial scale in clashing ways. The ­neo-frontier riskscapes of 2149 therefore participate in the processual quality of space(s) (Massey 9) which sets them apart from the static notion of an urban frontier.

A Capitalist World at Risk The ­neo-frontier riskscapes of 2149 reshape SF frontier spaces by focusing on global risks on a future Earth. They reflect on the overlap-



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ping risks of air pollution, overpopulation, and slumification through videography and ­mise-en-scène (the “Brown Planet” icon, the blurring of ­real-world global pollution and slum imagery with the local imagery of a fictional Chicago). They therefore counter the localism/regionalism which characterizes recent SF frontier fiction and embrace a “sense of planet” (Heise 59). A clash between imagined spaces and lived spaces becomes a productive means for the series to critique the construction of traditional frontier spaces and to reshape them through the logics of global risk: Terra Nova presents the Chicago of 2149 as the problematic product of economic growth, a system of thought which is codified through a homogenized architecture and risk management processes (population laws). The representation of riskscapes in Terra Nova critiques capitalist ­world-making both within the context of the historical frontier and the ­t wenty-first-century present: A clutter aesthetic draws attention to ceaseless capitalist waste production. The series problematizes the selection of risks and appropriate ways of risk management through different perceptions and ways of managing risks (individual families vs. ­political-capitalist authorities). ­M icro-riskscapes and a system of spatial segregation based on an unequal distribution of risks indicate a loss of home and place in a capitalist urban space. Finally, a new form of risk narrative (risk narrative of escape) comments critically on the present. It indicates that the risks of a ­c apitalist-industrial society cannot be solved in the future but can only be evaded by “starting over” in an alternate past. As such, the ­neo-frontier spaces of 2149 do not associate frontier spaces with individual risk (as is often the case in SF frontier fiction) but interrogate the interplay between global risks and (frontier) spaces within the context of the world risk society.

Utopian/Dystopian Patchwork Spaces and Utopia/Dystopia as Temporal Stages Terra Nova presents a significant departure from how utopian and dystopian spaces are represented in SF frontier fiction. While utopian/dystopian spaces in Star Trek and Firefly can be read as ambiguous, both series employ classic forms of utopia/dystopia by constructing homogeneous spaces and relying on binaristic constructs (the utopia of the Enterprise vs. dystopian planets in Star Trek; the intentional community of Serenity against the dystopian Alliance planets in Firefly). While Terra Nova also sets up a distinction between a utopian space (Terra Nova colony) and a dystopian space (Chicago in 2149), the series

122 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio constantly negotiates utopia, dystopia, and ­a nti-utopia with each other, breaking down the traditional models of a frontier utopia/frontier dystopia in SF frontier fiction.

The Dystopian Future Spaces of 2149 and Totalitarian (Bio)politics Terra Nova presents Chicago as a place that brings together utopia, dystopia, and ­a nti-utopia. It departs from the SF “city utopia” (Sargent 4; Jameson 4) and changes the very role of utopia/dystopia as (spatial) concepts and narrative patterns for constructing SF frontier spaces. Utopia/ eutopia designates a fictional society which is presented as better than the society of the reader/viewer (Sargent 9). Dystopia denotes a society which is presented as worse, often tied to “a diseased, bad, faulty or unfavorable place” (Claeys, Dystopia 4) marked by ruins, destruction, and death (3). ­A nti-utopia constitutes an ambiguous form: It often designates a dystopian society in which utopian dreaming has become impossible or useless (Moylan 124–125) but also offers a ­s elf-critical edge as it not only interrogates contemporary society but attacks the process of social dreaming and the very possibility to create utopias (Sargent 9; Moylan 129). Terra Nova reworks traditional dystopian and ­a nti-utopian narratives: While 2149 is presented as ­a nti-utopian, the series rejects the form of a dystopia in which hope for a utopian change is retained. Instead, it relocates possibilities for utopian change to an “elsewhere” in the past. This narrative trajectory ­re-captures the ­past-oriented utopian drive of the frontier myth. Yet, the series creates a new space and time for utopian thinking/­place-making which moves beyond SF frontier narratives in which a utopian “starting over” is either possible in outer space (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 172; Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 44–58) or on a future Earth (Sharp 155; Katerberg 7). The representation of 2149 combines dystopian and ­a nti-utopian elements via an ecodystopian frame. As Katerberg points out, SF frontier fiction usually employs a return to primitive conditions after a global catastrophe: A speculative dystopian event functions as a catalyst for utopian ­place-making and “starting over” in a destroyed world (5). 2149, instead, can be read as an “­a nti-utopian dystopia.” ­A nti-utopian dystopias do not just present a “bad place” but also employ a “resigned pessimism” as they do not allow for utopian change or the construction of alternative societies (Moylan 153). As noted before, the Chicago of 2149 is fixed by economic growth, air pollution, overpopulation, slumification, waste production and the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems—all



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of which code 2149 as an “ecodystopia” (Otto 5). Ecodystopias differ from the classical utopian “elsewhere” in space and time as their dystopian worlds are connected to the present by extrapolating from contemporary ­a nti-ecological conditions (50). Terra Nova extrapolates current climate change risks into a future which is presented as considerably worse in its construction of physical, social, political, and economic spaces. 21 The overpopulated streets, slums piling up with waste, the prison-like apartment of the Shannons, and the risk of diseases present 2149 as both dystopian and ­a nti-utopian. The series reinforces this by using color filters which depict Chicago as gray and bleak, accompanied by a plaintive chorus, followed by ­d rum-heavy music which connotes danger (“Genesis”). Chicago is an unchangeable spatial system: While the ­neo-frontier spaces of Chicago negotiate dystopia and ­a nti-utopia, they omit any possibility for the creation of new utopian spaces in the narrative future. Although Terra Nova presents 2149 as an ­a nti-utopian space, the narrative arc of the season works both with and against the traditional dystopian narrative: This narrative revolves around a change in awareness of the main protagonist who begins to realize dystopian qualities of the society he/she lives in. He/she is spurred into action and engages in resistance which either results in a utopian change of society or an anti-utopian crushing of all resistance (Moylan 148; Baccolini and Moylan 5). “Genesis” introduces a typical dystopian narrative/­c ounternarrative structure (Moylan 155): The Shannons resist the oppressive, hegemonic political system by illegally having a third child. Ultimately, their act of resistance is crushed as Population Control officers reveal Zoe’s presence, and Jim is locked up in prison. In an ­a nti-utopian fashion, the narrative emphasizes the impossibility of radical change as the oppression of the population cannot be altered by the main characters. ­A nti-utopia “protects the status quo and the satisfactions that it delivers to its beneficiaries” (Moylan 131). The order of society and construction of physical spaces lies in the hands of authorities/capitalist elites which conserve the oppressive system of power for their own financial gains. Hence, the series presents dreams of a better society as unachievable in 2149. Instead, it emphasizes that a true utopia can be only be realized on an alternate Earth, 85 million years in the past. The series reverses the trajectory of SF frontier fiction in which new frontier spaces are located in the narrative future either on Earth or in outer space (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167; Katerberg 23). By associating utopia with the past and with an alternate Earth, Terra Nova plays on the origins of ancient utopian myths (Sargent 10). It ties the ­neo-frontier spaces of the

124 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Cretaceous to the ­past-oriented nostalgia of the frontier myth but these spaces no longer harken back to the mythical ideal of a “lost idealized past” (Lehan 33) but explore an alternative time and space in which utopian thinking can become productive again. Terra Nova determines the social spaces in 2149 as ­a nti-utopian by relations of subjection which limit the possibility for social dreaming. The series utilizes a dystopian totalitarian system in which the government/corporate elites control social spaces through biopolitical mechanisms of subjection. In theory, subjection is a ­double-edged mechanism of power which subjects individuals to external control (as oppression) while also opening up the possibility to become an active subject in the first place (Butler, The Psychic Life of Power 2). Here, subjection instead becomes a means for a ­one-directional biopolitical management of the population of Chicago. In biopolitical systems, “life itself becomes the object of political governance, and political governance becomes the practice of steering the biological life of individuals and species” (Vint, “Introduction” 161). Terra Nova presents the government/corporate elites as a biopolitical regime which governs “the biological life of individuals” by imposing birth control through laws that expropriate individuals of the right to choose their family planning and they enforce them by raids (“Genesis”). Not unlike in Nineteen ­Eighty-Four, biopolitical governance extends to the media through totalitarian propaganda. Whereas the propaganda in Orwell’s novel focuses on subjecting the citizen to surveillance—epitomized by the “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” slogan (Orwell 3)—the holoscreens in Chicago pronounce the political ideology of the regime: “A FAMILY IS FOUR—OVERPOPULATION EQUALS EXTINCTION” (“Genesis”). As Moylan notes, totalitarian dystopian regimes in fiction utilize language as a weapon to sustain the status quo with the ultimate goal of producing suggestible and gullible subjects (149). The slogan relies on a typical totalitarian framing that presents both statements as ­s elf-evident and as expressing a purportedly universal truth (Arendt 351). While overpopulation constitutes a real risk in 2149, the propaganda utilizes a looming catastrophe (“extinction”) which shifts responsibility to the citizens. The statement presents the dystopian conditions of life as the population’s own fault (by ignoring the ­t wo-child policy). Simultaneously, it silences other dystopian risks (e.g., air pollution, slumification, and environmental destruction) which are caused and/or exacerbated by the ­capitalist-corporate-government. This framing indicates that dystopia is not a characteristic feature of 2149 but a human product: While the propaganda shifts the blame for dystopia to the citizens, the ­a nti-utopian dystopian state of 2149 is the



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result of interacting human actions—both of the ­c apitalist-industrial government and the population. Nevertheless, intradiegetic codings of utopia/dystopia conserve the status quo by fostering a fragmentation of the public. The imagery accompanying these messages draws itself on a utopian/dystopian framing: The first slogan, “A FAMILY IS FOUR,” is accompanied by a stylized father, mother and two children holding hands in front of a ­blue-green background. The second slogan “OVERPOPULATION EQUALS EXTINCTION” presents an anonymous crowd which extends beyond the borders of the screen, set before a red background. The color scheme employs a traditional use of colors—green as good/utopian and red as bad/dystopian.22 The representation establishes contrasting utopian/dystopian images: Parents walking happily with their children are presented as a ­to-be-strived for utopian way of life, while the crowd menacingly overflows the screen, signifying dystopian conditions to the viewer. The propaganda draws on traditional fears associated with the crowd as analyzed by psychoanalysts such as Gustave Le Bon and Sigmund Freud. In their analysis, the crowd is associated with “fury, violence or lawlessness, irrationality, extreme emotionality, or uncontrolled movement” (Claeys, Dystopia 18) and is prone to aggressive acts which threaten the ongoing existence of “civilization” (19). The power of subjection is exercised here not by physical violence and law enforcement but by playing on psychic fears: Fear is displaced from fearing the raids and punishments toward a fear of the population toward each other. This creates what the totalitarian government wants—“atomized, isolated individuals” (Arendt 323) which never raise their consciousness into a collective rebellious state or carve out a “[utopian] enclave or other marker of difference” (Moylan 157). The “lesson” of the message is ­a nti-utopian in nature: “Be content with the current dystopia which is actually a social ‘reality’ of family utopias at threat from dystopian processes of overpopulation.” Therefore, utopia and dystopia do not merely constitute features of the social and physical spaces of 2149 but function as political forces which influence how Chicago is perceived, conceived and lived in. The biopolitical dystopian management of the population also inflects Chicago’s architecture and geographical layout which destabilizes traditional images of SF frontier cities as completely utopian or dystopian spaces. The working and middle classes are segregated from the affluent elites which reside in ­climate-controlled domes. This extrapolates from cities in the ­t wenty-first century. As Gordon MacLeod and Kevin Ward note, the contemporary Western city is comprised of “an intensely uneven patchwork of utopian and dystopian spaces that are, to

126 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio all intents and purposes, proximate but institutionally estranged” (154). They critique the fragmentation of cities into utopian enclaves for upper middle classes and growing “concentrated hyperghettoes and peripheral shantytowns” (154) for the working and lower middle classes. Enclaves often take the form of gated communities which are separated from the “outside” by fences, walls, security services and surveillance technology (159). Gated communities constitute “a Utopian world of absolution and security, clearly distinguishable from the hostility of city life beyond the perimeter fence” (Caldeira qtd. in MacLeod and Ward 160). In Terra Nova, residential domes are owned by a wealthy elite (“Occupation”/“Resistance”), constituting utopian enclaves within the dystopian cityscape. This representation of the domes as utopian, “secure,” and separate spaces points to the pitfalls of utopian ­place-making, particularly the establishment of “utopias of the equal few based upon the oppression of the many” (Claeys, Dystopia 8). Chicago presents an alternative to “city utopias” (Sargent 4) in which the city becomes a site for realizing utopian dreams for the entire population (Jameson 4). It simultaneously deviates from the homogenized cityscapes in dystopian cyberpunk SF which do not allow for the creation of any utopian spaces (Ferreras 148). Instead, the ­neo-frontier spaces of Chicago emphasize the inextricability of utopia and dystopia in cities and interrogate their relational spatialization within urban structures.

Terra Nova Colony: From Dystopian Utopia to Utopian Dystopia Terra Nova frames Terra Nova colony as a utopian space of “radical difference” (Jameson xii) which contrasts with the capitalism of 2149 but the colony can be read as ambiguous. It follows classic socialist utopias and frontier utopias but also mirrors the very spaces of 2149 which the colonists purportedly reject. My analysis draws on the concepts of the “critical utopia” and the “political dystopia.” Critical utopias emerged with ­counter-culture movements in the 1960s to 1970s (Moylan 9). They focus on a better society but depict it as struggling with significant problems that are not guaranteed to be solved (Sargent 9). Critical utopias are marked by a ­self-reflective view on utopianism as a process (Sargent 9; Moylan 81–83). They articulate an “ideological critique” by rejecting dominant forms of the social order as the achievement of utopia (Moylan 82) and criticize the reliance on universal solutions to problems, social blueprints to be followed, and perfection as a goal for ­place-making (Moylan 82–83; Sargent 9). The concept becomes useful for reading Terra Nova because it allows for a dialectic



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reading of the colony as both utopian but also as a problematic space that relies on dystopian forms of spatial and social organization. The concept of the political dystopia adds a different nuance here. Political dystopias refer to a “bad place” which is often marked by totalitarian governments which oppress the public (Claeys, Dystopia 6). They rely on practices which aim at “relentless transparency, the repression of variety, and the curtailment of privacy” (6). Two practices become relevant for discussion—surveillance and the prison system/carcerotopia. My analysis focuses on a post–9/11 form of surveillance (Wildermuth 2) that is politically framed as a response to (imagined) terrorist threats (Lyon 20) and is “continuous, general, routine, systematic, impersonal and ubiquitous” (Lyon 2). My approach to the prison system brings together carcerotopia (Claeys, Dystopia 13) with the modern prison system as theorized by Michel Foucault. The prison system constitutes an administrative and legal system which manages human bodies, controlling inmates through an “apparatus of observation, registration and coding” (231). A focus on political dystopia allows for reading Terra Nova against its own ideological grain in order to examine how utopia and dystopia become coextensive in the colony. The colony brings together utopia and utopian thinking about spaces. This contrasts with 2149 which is tied to thinking about spaces in conservative ways. The series frames Terra Nova as a utopian place through narratives (the Shannons’ “starting over” as a family) and audiovisual means of representation (extreme long shots of the colony accompanied by a slow violin score). Terra Nova amalgamates the classic utopia with an imagined space which participates in the frontier myth. Robert Tally argues that contemporary utopias have left behind their origins in ­f ar-away locations and are instead mapping the “dynamic world system of the ­t wenty-first century” (Utopia in the Age of Globalization 95). In contrast, Terra Nova locates the only possibility for utopian change in the narrative past. The colony harkens back to the origins of the utopian genre (a remote place) but displaces the location for utopia in space and time. This allows for writing history anew, consistent with the mythical idea of regeneration/renewal at the frontier (Turner 199–201). Terra Nova envisions a ­spatio-temporally dislocated alternative space which allows for the “radical otherness” of utopia (Jameson xii). The series not only frames social dreaming as positive but establishes this way of thinking as essential for constructing ­neo-frontier spaces: Terra Nova links 2149 to urban frontiers in SF which rely on static, familiar spaces (industrialized capitalist cities). In contrast, the ­neo-frontier spaces of the Cretaceous employ utopian thinking in order

128 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio to construct defamiliarized spaces which hold the potential to transform viewer perceptions of the real world. In his welcome speech, Commander Taylor ties Terra Nova to social dreaming: Each one of you has taken a first step, just as I did seven years ago, toward a new beginning. […] The world you left behind fell victim to some of the baser instincts of our species: greed, war, ignorance. […] We destroyed our home. But we have been entrusted with a second chance. A chance to start over. A chance to get it right. Welcome to Terra Nova, folks! Welcome home.

Taylor’s terminology establishes Terra Nova as an intentional community, i.e., a group of people from different backgrounds tied together into a community by “their shared values or for some other mutually agreed upon purpose” (Sargent 15, italics in original). The community is united by embracing a “new beginning” and realizing a better way of life than the “greed, war, ignorance” of 2149. By setting up a binary— utopia of the past vs. dystopia of the future—the series participates in frontier utopianism. The frontier myth coded the West as a point of refuge, “a safety valve relieving the dissatisfaction of the discontent, allowing new opportunities to those resolute enough to take advantage of the occasion” (Lehan 21). While the speech articulates a break from 2149, it does not create ­neo-frontier spaces but resurrects a mythical utopianism which constitutes a ­long-standing tradition in SF frontier fiction. Yet, Terra Nova does not present a timeless SF frontier utopia. SF frontier utopias have been constructed as places in which historical change is given up in favor of a static ideal society (Katerberg 21–22). In contrast to 2149, the colony is not fixed and homogenized but is in process: Terra Nova stands “at the dawn of a new civilization.” Hence, the project of making a utopian place is not finished but ongoing. The colony participates in the utopian ­deterritorialization-reterritorialization process identified by Philip Wegner. Wegner asserts that utopias deterritorialize conventional social formations and spatial practices, while reterritorializing these spaces through ongoing, radically new concep­ tions (25–26). In Taylor’s speech, the utopian colony is only made possible by combining a new mindset (which is ­a nti-capitalist and antigrowth) with a corresponding practice of living. The colony constitutes a processual utopia in which social dreaming is not realized in one fixed form but informs continuing negotiations of the colony throughout the series. Although the colony is a utopian work in progress, its political, social, and cultural spaces still draw on homogenizing elements of the classic utopia. Classic utopias imagine “small ­v illage-style communities,” with citizens participating in communal activities (James 20).



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This is the case for the welcome gathering in “Genesis” and the Harvest Festival in “Vs.” in Terra Nova. Classic utopias remove private property, including “greed, theft, jealousy and most causes of civil strife” (220), and are based on “[r]eason and good will” (220); i.e., citizens live in harmony, working together for a shared purpose. While money is not abolished in Terra Nova—citizens earn ­s o-called Terras (“Genesis,” “Instinct,” “Bylaw”)—the monetary system is divorced from capitalist production and mass consumption which are associated with 2149. Basic amenities are made accessible for everyone, food is distributed equally among citizens (“Genesis”), and money is only spent on supplementary luxury items (“Genesis,” “Instinct”). Private property is modified as all new arrivals are put in ­identical-looking houses. This homogenization of homes reaffirms the utopian equality of all citizens. Ironically, while these measures reject the homogenized capitalist cityscape of 2149, they in fact homogenize the colony themselves. Spatial and economic arrangements mirror 2149 in significant ways: The ­identical-looking houses are—just like the apartments in 2149— standardized. While capitalism is divorced from ­profit-making and exploitation, it still shapes the social life of the colonists.23 As such, the colony does not so much represent a complete break from 2149 as both employ similar modes of spatial organization. Terra Nova represents a “critical utopia” (Sargent 8; Moylan 9). This form of utopia constitutes a better society but has “difficult problems that the described society may or may not be able to solve and […] takes a critical view of the utopian genre” (Sargent 9). Critical utopias no longer posit their alternative society as a perfect blueprint to be followed. Sargent cautions that a perfect society can only be achieved by force and violence, transforming utopianism into totalitarianism (9). Despite its self-proclaimed utopian agenda, the construction of the colony in social, political, and judicial terms demonstrates totalitarian tendencies which resemble 2149. This becomes clear when Commander Taylor talks about the Sixers’ interference with Terra Nova: “I will not let them, I will not let anyone stand in the way of what we’re building here. Terra Nova will succeed” (“Genesis,” italics added). This indicates that Terra Nova is a fixed blueprint which is to be followed by all citizens and that dissent will not be tolerated. The quote also signifies Taylor’s power position. He is the ­decision-maker who safeguards the ­up-keeping of the utopian vision against internal or external resistance. Taylor functions as a problematic leader figure. Leaders have a key role in shaping a group’s identity and managing their social interactions (Claeys, Dystopia, 46). Members in groups experience “vertical vicarious enhancement” (46); i.e., individuals feel strengthened by “identifying with the particularly

130 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio heroic qualities of […] leaders” (46). For the Terra Nova citizens, Taylor has attained an iconic hero status as the first pioneer who explored the Cretaceous (“Genesis,” “Vs.”). The series draws on the image of glorified pioneers which were marked as “great heroes of the Western civilization” (Den Uyl 31) and admired for their “­awe-inspiring strength, skills, and courage that stand out so significantly that the contributions of all others recede completely into the background” (31). This hero worship is reiterated through a play in the annual Harvest Festival (“Vs.”). While the festival officially celebrates the history of Terra Nova, the play in fact cements Taylor’s hero status, representing his actions as the glorious deeds of one man who believed in a better future and realized Terra Nova against all odds (“Vs.”). This framing becomes problematic as it validates Taylor’s position as an autocratic leader whose mythic identity and deeds raise his decisions above all doubt. The series here shows the contradictoriness of the popular frontier myth: The frontier myth advocates for a communal frontier utopianism which clashes with the notion of an individualistic frontier hero. Terra Nova criticizes this by showing how utopianism becomes subjugated to the dictates of a mythified individual. However, this hero worship and frontier utopianism are destabilized by character perceptions which codify the colony as a perspectival utopia/dystopia. Taylor and his autocratic decisions are questioned by his son, Lucas Taylor, who exposes the frontier hero image as an ideological and reductive representation. Lucas asks Skye if “the Great Commander” has walked on water or brought a dead man back to life (“Within”). Lucas’ playful conflation between Taylor as a frontier hero and a religious idol here lays bare how the colony’s ­utopian-ness is channeled through an individual: It uncovers the ways in which a quasireligious devotion leads the citizens to follow Taylor’s utopian blueprint instead of questioning his vision or calling for alternatives. Therefore, this perspectivism introduces a critical utopian element which opens up the frontier utopianism of the colony to differing views. This critical utopian element also emerges in specific episodes. Taylor’s autocratic leadership and ­decision-making are challenged in “Bylaw.” In this episode, a soldier is purportedly murdered by a jealous husband whose wife has been cheating on him.24 Taylor decides to punish the husband by banishing him from the colony. He justifies this by appealing to the utopian way of life the colonists have endorsed, arguing that the citizens have to “live lives that are worthy of that remarkable place” and the colony is “no place for a crime like this.” His framing presents the crime not so much as violating laws but as a violation of the utopian principles on which Terra Nova is based. Taylor’s actions



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display a key ingredient of collectivist dystopias, namely “an extreme ethos of sociability centring on a fervent devotion to the common [utopian] good, which is, in reality, despotic rather than consensual” (Claes, Dystopia 8). This, however, is questioned through other characters. A discussion between Jim and Elizabeth on how to punish the murderer becomes an instance in which conflicting perspectives hold the critical utopian potential to counter Taylor’s vision: JIM: He confessed. There’s something to be said for swift justice. ELIZABETH:  But, Jim, come on. This is wrong! It’s frontier justice, you know that. JIM:  Aw, you say that like it’s a bad thing. Like I should miss the system we left behind. […] Everything moved ­iceberg-slow and I’d work a good case for months only to have someone buy the verdict out from under me.

Their conversation exemplifies how codings of Terra Nova as utopian are flexible and open for debate. Jim codes the colony as utopian in comparison to 2149 in which legal systems were sluggish in persecuting crimes and corruption was ubiquitous: As a consequence, Jim agrees with Taylor’s mode of operating via “swift justice.” In contrast, Elizabeth later criticizes that Terra Nova’s legal system relies on “barbaric decisions being made by one man alone.” She characterizes this system just as dystopian as the one in 2149. Although dystopia works differently in 2149 and the Cretaceous (corruption/bribery/an ineffective legal apparatus vs. the absence of any legal apparatus with one leader deciding on his own), both systems are marked by equally dystopian ways of governance. Elizabeth’s rejection of “frontier justice” is also significant here: She critiques Taylor’s legal decisions for relying on violence in order to punish criminals instead of imprisoning them. In a sense, violence constitutes a dystopian element in Terra Nova as this legal system supports frontier justice, promoting a “myth of the regeneration through violence” (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5). While legal decisions are made in different contexts in the Cretaceous and in 2149, Terra Nova and Chicago both replace a democratic legal apparatus with a dystopian individualistic execution of the law: In each case, individuals/ elites determine legal verdicts according to their own standards which disregard public opinion or democratic participation. This can usefully be read in the context of a larger biopolitical system of surveillance which blurs modes of governance between the colony and 2149. In both cases, the management of the population hinges on a subjection of the citizenry to an ideological agenda, with

132 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio conformity being policed through biopolitical control mechanisms. In the colony, the citizens are under constant surveillance, facilitated by the colony’s architectural design. The command center, which looms over the colony like a watchtower, is equipped with advanced holographic CCTV technology that allows for complete surveillance. The colony can be read as a virtual panopticon. The panopticon is based on an architectural principle proposed by Jeremy Bentham in which a watchtower with vision slits is surrounded by a ring of ­semi-transparent cells (Foucault, Discipline and Punish 200). “The panoptic mechanism arranges spatial unities that make it possible [for the watcher] to see constantly and to recognize immediately” (200). The citizen “is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication” (200). In Terra Nova, the CCTV system establishes an analogous mechanism as the military monitors every public space, while citizens do not know this and can do nothing to escape the panoptic gaze. As such, both the dystopian system of 2149 and the (supposedly) utopian system of the colony mirror each other in how they objectify citizens under the controlling gaze of a small elite. This biopolitical system of surveillance serves as a paradigmatic example for how the colony is marked by ambiguity, especially considering the clash between how the colony is imagined (as a utopian dream) and lived in (as a dystopian reality). Biopolitical control and surveillance are justified by Taylor as being necessary due to external and internal threats (the Sixers in the jungle, a spy within the colony). Similarly to the Alliance in Firefly, the logic behind Taylor’s reasoning replicates post 9/11 politics of the “security state” (Wildermuth 2) by utilizing the notion of security for legitimizing surveillance (2). In Terra Nova, surveillance is intended and framed as a means to ensure the continuation of a peaceful, harmonious utopian way of life. At the same time, it subverts the very utopian principles and the “new beginning” which the colony is supposed to be based on. While a discrepancy between utopian dream and practice has often been noted by scholars (Claeys, Dystopia 5–8; Gordin, Tilley, and Prakash 1–2), this clash becomes significant for ­neo-frontier spaces as it departs from the SF frontier which mostly either recuperates the utopianism inherent in the frontier myth (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 5) or presents frontier spaces as dystopian “dark frontiers” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171–176; Katerberg 213–214). The series ultimately upsets this state of ambiguity by representing the colony as a changeable utopian/dystopian place. Throughout the series, the colony constitutes a dystopian utopia, a community which follows utopian principles while displaying dystopian tendencies. The



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­t wo-part episode “Occupation”/“Resistance” transforms the colony into a utopian dystopia. In this episode, the colony is conquered by the Sixers and the Phoenix group who transform it into a carcerotopia. In a carcerotopia, rulers physically lock in and survey citizens in a manner that is similar to the classic prison system (Claeys, Dystopia 13). According to historian Michel Foucault the construction of prison spaces works by distributing individuals, fixing them in space, classifying them, extracting from them the maximum in time and forces, training their bodies, coding their continuous behaviour, maintaining them in perfect visibility, forming around them an apparatus of observation, registration and coding, constituting on them a body of knowledge that is accumulated and centralized [Discipline and Punish 231].

Both episodes exemplify these mechanisms: Surveillance is intensified by military patrols and manned watchtowers (including searchlights at night). These practices of surveillance are combined with a daily curfew which imprisons citizens within their own homes (“Occupation”/“Resistance”). Social life is rearranged as food production and medical services are “extracting from them [= the citizens] the maximum in time and forces” in order to service the new rulers. “[C]ontinuous behaviour” is instilled by the curfew and mass queueings for subsistence meals, and a complete lockdown limits the citizens’ mobility. The previous clash between utopian dream and dystopian practice is intensified here (from surveillance system to carcerotopia) and ambiguity is transformed into changeability: The colony functions as a fluid signifier which can transform from utopia to dystopia through changed spatial practices. Utopia and dystopia therefore figure as relational temporal stages rather than permanent spatial characteristics as would be the case for SF frontier utopias. This reshaping of utopia and dystopia as relational temporal stages also inflects the narrative arc of the series which describes a circular loop, tying together utopia, dystopia, and apocalypse. The series sets off with a linear utopian narrative of transition from the ­a nti-utopian dystopia of 2149 to the dystopian utopia of Terra Nova (“Genesis”). The last two episodes use a circular dystopian narrative in which the colony changes from dystopian utopia to carcerotopia and back to a dystopian utopia (“Occupation/Resistance”). This dystopian narrative is tied to a moment of revelation as Jim awakens to the new carcerotopia of the transformed colony. The framing plays on the original meaning of apocalypse as a moment of “revelation, unveiling, uncovering” (Berger 5) as the new carcerotopia is gradually revealed through point of view shots. These shots reveal typical dystopian “landscapes defined by ruin,

134 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio death, destruction” (Claeys, Dystopia 3): The outer fence is charred and filled with holes, bomb craters and destroyed equipment mark the colony, and giant ­red-black flags (not unlike the NS flag and the Soviet flag) are prominently displayed on the command center and outer fence. Despite this ­a nti-utopian imagery, the episode follows a narrative/­ counter-narrative structure (Moylan 148) as the Terra Nova citizens manage to foil the Sixers/Phoenix Group’s plans by destroying the time portal, eventually leading to the end of the occupation. The Terra Nova citizens return to the colony and restore it as a dystopian utopia. The series frames this return as a repetition of the first arrival of the Shannons in the colony in “Genesis” by using the same camera angles and shots, accompanied by the tranquil violin main theme of Terra Nova. Therefore, the circularity of the narrative repositions utopia and dystopia not as endpoints for the narrative—as would be the case with traditional utopian or dystopian narratives (Baccolini and Moylan 5; Moylan xiii). Instead, they function as interconnected and changeable elements of the ­neo-frontier spaces which the series creates. This ­co-presence of dystopia and utopia in the colony and the narrative transitions between utopia and carcerotopia demonstrate that the colony is not static and fixed but is—just like all space—an ongoing, changing construction which is “open, multiple and relational, unfinished and always [in the process of] becoming” (Massey 59).

Utopias and Dystopias in Flux Terra Nova’s complex engagement with utopia/dystopia becomes central to the series’ construction of ­neo-frontier spaces. SF frontier fiction mostly either recuperates the utopianism inherent in the frontier myth (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 5) or presents frontier spaces as dystopian “dark frontiers” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171–176; Katerberg 213–214). The ­neo-frontier spaces of Terra Nova unhinge such binaristic approaches: They negotiate “social dreaming,” politics, relational views, and the changeability of spaces. The representation of 2149 constructs an ecodystopian ­neo-frontier space marked by biopolitical relations (propaganda, a fragmented city). Yet, this space can be read as a complex patchwork of utopia, ­a nti-utopia, and dystopia which transcends the traditional SF forms of the “city utopia” or cyberpunk city. The representation of the colony similarly does not present a perfect intentional community but an ambivalent and changeable construct: The colony draws on the frontier myth (its function as a “frontier haven” and point of escape from 2149, notions of starting over). While the series seeks to present the colony as an exact opposite to 2149, the ­neo-frontier spaces



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of 2149 and the colony in the Cretaceous instead mirror each other in terms of spatial organization (similar modes of homogenizing space and mechanisms of biopolitical control over the citizenry, the importance of capitalism, and the undemocratic execution of laws). Despite this mirroring, the ­neo-frontier spaces in Terra Nova rethink SF frontier spaces and critically reflect on the relationship between “social dreaming,” lived spaces, and the frontier myth. On the one hand, Terra Nova productively reflects on its own representation of a frontier utopia: The series challenges the frontier hero trope, it highlights a problematic clash between communal frontier utopianism and individual frontier heroism/leadership, and critiques the reliance on frontier violence in order to maintain utopia. On the other hand, the series transforms the relationship between utopia, dystopia and frontier spaces: The colony functions as a fluid signifier of utopian/dystopian ambivalence and the shift from a linear utopian narrative to a circular narrative rejects traditional forms of utopian/dystopian narratives. Ultimately, utopia and dystopia do not function as fixed spatial markers but present relational temporal stages of a colony which is in constant flux. The ­neo-frontier spaces of Terra Nova participate in a critical revision of the frontier myth and renegotiate the relationship between utopia/dystopia and spaces in terms of a radical changeability which rejects binaristic distinctions between a frontier utopia or a “dark frontier.”

4 Spaces in Flux ­Re-Living the Present and Coming to Terms with the (Mythical) Past in Defiance Defiance, broadcast on Syfy from 2013 to 2015, was created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne O’Bannon and Michael Taylor. The series focuses on the lives of human and alien inhabitants of the frontier city of Defiance—formerly St. Louis—in 2046 after the end of the ­so-called “Pale Wars” in which an alliance of diverse alien species (the Votans comprised of the Irathients, Castithans, Indogenes, Liberata, Volge, Biomen and Omec) attempted to colonize and terraform Earth. As a consequence of the war and terraforming, cities have been destroyed and rebuilt, terraforming has created new ecosystems (a mixture of terrestrial and Votan ones), and the different species and former enemies struggle to live with each other. Scholars have noted that the series’ use of music, characters, narratives, and its representation of the Irathients resemble the American Western (Lavigne 77–78, Granade 82–83) and that it employs forms of racialized and gendered Othering that resurrect traditional power inequalities between humans and ­non-human Others (Lavigne 77–89). Despite these forays, the construction of frontier spaces and the role of ­post-apocalyptic ­world-building in the series have not been studied so far. In contrast to the world in crisis in Terra Nova, Defiance explores the repercussions of the Pale Wars and the failed terraforming project by constructing a ­p ost-catastrophic world. This enables the series to engage with the old/new tension of the ­post-apocalyptic and to interrogate the historical past rather than merely engaging with the SF frontier myth. The ­neo-frontier spaces of the series are marked by a historical reflectivity which speaks to revisionist tendencies in the contemporary Western (Le Menager 526–533)1 and in SF frontier fiction (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171–177; Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 27). While Terra Nova and The 100 also employ a ­post-apocalyptic contrast 136



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between the old and the new, Defiance stands out as it specifically engages with U.S. settler history in its narratives and reflects on the legacies of U.S. settler colonialism in the ­t wenty-first century.

The Frontier City of Defiance and the “Interwoven Threads” of Urban Spaces While Terra Nova establishes a settler colony in the past, Defiance focuses on Defiance, a ­post-apocalyptic “replacement” of ­present-day St. Louis. In certain respects, Defiance resembles Terra Nova colony (e.g., by also employing an agenda of “starting over” and relying on Othering) but the city reshapes frontier spaces in a manner which is distinct from Terra Nova. The series engages with the complexities of the urban by presenting Defiance as a frontier city instead of creating a homogenized colony. In contrast to Terra Nova colony which is a purely speculative construct, the city of Defiance constitutes a speculative historical space which ­self-reflectively addresses the history of the United States. The city is marked by connections to the historical St. Louis which put it into conversation not just with the frontier myth but also with the actual settler colonial past of Missouri. Narratives in the series engage in a speculative form of “[h]istorical reenactment,” i.e., a critical ­re-examination of the past which seeks to recover and reflect on this past without resorting to mythical narratives (Lamb 1). Narratives which revolve around Othering between species in Defiance reenact settler colonial practices of racial exclusion, expropriation, and extermination of Native American tribes. This reenactment serves to critique racism and violence as ongoing legacies of settler colonialism in the ­t wenty-first century.

The City of Defiance: Settler Colonial Spaces and the Future Frontier City The ­neo-frontier spaces of Defiance productively engage with the frontier city. The frontier city constitutes a temporary urban form in colonial America which was located ­i n-between a settled territory and the unsettled wilderness of the frontier (Mahoney 149–150). Approaching Defiance from this angle becomes productive as the series modifies the frontier city through speculation: In Defiance, a ­post-apocalyptic historicity becomes a means for challenging and rethinking the SF frontier myth. This historicity comprises both the importance of a narrative

138 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio past and an awareness of history as an ongoing element of the narrative present. Hence, the series does not present a “reborn wild west” ­(Lavigne 77) but constructs ­neo-frontier spaces which are shaped by a historical complexity which negotiates visions of the past and future. The representation of Defiance also plays on settler colonial dialectics of permanence and temporariness. Defiance constitutes a frontier city in 2046. A frontier city is a temporary urban formation characterized by its proximity to a geographical frontier line; it is located in the “borderlands” or “the middle ground” between an already established settled system and unsettled territory (Mahoney 149–150). It is usually isolated from industrialized ­i nter-city systems and lacks stable urban structures (151). Defiance is located in a valley which separates it from the surrounding terraformed wasteland (the “Badlands”), the only access-way being Bissel Pass (“Pilot”). While Defiance corresponds to Mahoney’s definition in terms of its geographical isolation, Defiance is not lacking permanent urban structures: Defiance includes all markers of a ­f ully-fledged city. These markers include, in following Mahoney (151), permanent spatial arrangements (Defiance exists for 15 years at the beginning of the narrative), an economic market (a large variety of merchants sell goods on Market Street), and a participatory body of government (a democratically elected town council). The city does not merely replicate a historical frontier city. Instead, Defiance can be read as a complex permanent city which is ongoing in time rather than a temporary formation which appears and disappears with the movement of a frontier line. Despite this departure from the frontier city, Defiance in many respects mirrors modes of spatial organization of a settler colony, e.g., in its isolated position and the relationship between the city and its hinterland. As Mar and Edmonds highlight, settler colonial landscapes fuse “vast ­mono-cultural expanses of ­single-cropped fields” with “socially coded areas of human habitation and trespass that are bordered, policed and defended” (2). Both elements apply to Defiance and its hinterland but the positioning is the exact inversion of Terra Nova colony. In Terra Nova, agricultural fields are located at the core of the colony, surrounded by a habitation ring. In Defiance, agricultural fields and industries (e.g., the McCawley Mines) are located on the periphery, following a classical division into urban center and agricultural hinterland. The control of trespassing even extends beyond the city: The Stasis Net in Bissel Pass allows for the city officials to survey and regulate travel to and from the city and its hinterland (“Pilot”). This separation of the city and county from the Badlands and from other cities reflects a settler colonial logic in terms of establishing clear borders and



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regulating access according to the wishes of the government (Mar and Edmonds 2–3). The emphasis on borders therefore parallels the construction of settler colonial frontier spaces in Terra Nova. The representation of the city as both an imagined and lived space in Defiance draws on frontier mythical notions of autonomous independence and settler sovereignty but also revises these elements through a ­post-settler colonial sensibility. As Lorenzo Veracini points out, settler colonial thinking revolves around a specific form of sovereignty: Specific rights are supposed to emerge from the settler collective’s residency in a particular place, its capacity to manage its own citizenry independently, and the belief in a regenerative power of this particular place (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 54–55). The settler city is set apart from the “Old World” of Europe and colonies which are still tied to a metropolitan center (54–59). A similar way of thinking underpins the coding of Defiance as an independent city which stands apart from the Earth Republic, the Volge, and the Votanis Collective. This is evidenced in Mayor Amanda Rosewater’s speech to the citizens before the battle against the Volge (“Pilot”): We all have our stories, and we’ve endured a lot—raiders, epidemics, floods. […] We live in a great place, a town where human and Votan races live together as equals. We strive for the best, but sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we forget ourselves, and occasionally, this new world rears up and kicks us in the teeth. But we stay. We fight because this town is worth fighting for, and if necessary, it’s worth dying for.

Amanda evokes traditional settler colonial values—the shared history of the inhabitants, the communal survival ­vis-à-vis criminals and natural catastrophes; the ­s elf-management of the citizenry, and the mythical regenerative powers of the city. Traditional frontier cities are temporary constructs which eventually are transformed into industrialized cities or disappear when the frontier line moves on (Mahoney 150, 153). Instead, Defiance is presented as an ongoing place and site of encounter. Amanda emphasizes that the city is inhabited by a huge variety of different species (humans, Irathients, Castithans, Indogenes, Liberata, Biomen, and Sensoths). The speech ties living and interacting with each other to a communal “sense of place”; i.e., affective emotional bonds to a specific location through shared past experiences (Ryan, Foote and Azaryahu 7). This recourse to an emotional attachment to the city resembles Terra Nova but Defiance reshapes frontier spaces through a ­neo-frontier sensibility which departs from the SF frontier myth: Instead of presenting the city as a homogenous settler collective, the series ­re-conceptualizes it as a social and historical product

140 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio whose continued sovereign state depends on the ongoing contributions of every citizen. Despite this revisionist reflection on frontier ­place-making, the series stages the history of Defiance as a frontier narrative of regeneration and renewal. As Veracini notes, settler colonial narratives follow a linear structure which often revolves around “the teleological expectation of irreversible transformation” within the new place which the settlers now inhabit (99). Mayor Rosewater constructs such a narrative in a speech that commemorates the end of the Pale Wars (“Pilot”). She identifies a moment of “irreversible transformation”: According to her, Defiance could only become a multicultural community as a result of the insurrection of the “Defiant few” during the Pale Wars—a group of human and Votan soldiers who instigated a spontaneous armistice against their orders. She frames this historical event as a catalyst as other divisions followed the lead of the “Defiant few.” The example set by these glorified (mythical) heroes inspired the founders of Defiance who labored to construct a place in which the Votan species and humans could peacefully live together (“Pilot,” “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”). The transformative power of Defiance is not only attributed to this historical event but also to a frontier work ethic. Amanda repeatedly stresses the heroic qualities of the citizens which align with the characteristics of frontier heroes as strong, inventive, and industrious (Turner 226–227). She praises the contributions by every individual in creating Defiance (“Pilot”), reaching from business owner Rafe McCawley’s industriousness in setting up a gulanite mining industry (“Pilot,” “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”) to ­small-scale farmer Paul’s will to rebuild his farm after a razor rain (“Pilot”). The series here constructs a teleological narrative which casts the inhabitants as frontier heroes whose hard work made equality and multiculturalism possible. The city is staged as a historical achievement. Therefore, the series blurs history and elements of the frontier myth as Defiance is not so much historicized but mythologized here. As Slotkin points out, myths draw on history and codify a common popular ideology through utilizing ­cause-and-effect patterns that are also found in historical narratives (Gunfighter Nation 6). This same reductive structure here erases the complexities of history in favor of an ideological narrative of teleological progress—from war to regeneration/“starting over.” This narrative largely corresponds to the frontier myth rather than to the historical past of the United States but the series at the same time reflects on Westward expansion in a more critical manner: First, it allegorizes the burial of the past in U.S. Western historiography and in the



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frontier myth through the spatial layout of Defiance. Second, it engages critically with the dispossession of Native American tribes through narratives of conflict between humans and Irathients. Defiance is marked by “newness” as the city exists for only 15 years. Still, a complicated colonial history suffuses the city and lies literally buried in the underground. Defiance refers back to the conquest of the West: The series singles out the ­still-standing Gateway Arch of ­pre-war St. Louis, establishing it as a distinct visual marker of the reconstructed city. As historian Tracy Campbell points out, the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch constitutes a monument to the very idea of westward expansion (5). The Gateway Arch—officially the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (2)—was completed in 1965 and was meant to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 (10). The Gateway Arch in Defiance therefore references an important historical cornerstone central to the frontier myth. At the same time, the Gateway Arch calls attention to parallels between the historical St. Louis and the ­p ost-apocalyptic Defiance. Founded by fur trader Pierre Laclede Liguest in 1764, St. Louis was established as a regional trading post. In time, the riverfront became a center for different trading businesses after the sale of Louisiana to the United States (10–11). As a consequence of this economic flourishing up to the Civil War, St. Louis turned into “a town brimming with a cosmopolitan mixture of people” (11–12). Defiance similarly can be described as “a town brimming with a cosmopolitan mixture of people” as a combination of necessity and economic opportunity has led to the cohabitation of humans, Irathients, Castithans, Indogenes, Liberata, Biomen, and Sensoths. Not unlike in the historical St. Louis, trade constitutes an important sector in the urban economy and daily life as evidenced by the McCawley gulanite mines and the merchant stands on Market Street. 2 The series repeatedly focuses on the daily trades between human and ­non-human customers and traders. The traders sell fruit, meat, and utility clothing (including furs) but also artistic products such as ­C astithan-spun rugs (“A Well Respected Man”) and cultural ceremonial products, e.g., the Castithan telo (“The Bride Wore Black”). Trade also exceeds the boundaries of the city as the traders order resources and goods from Fresno and Calexico which are transported to Defiance by the Overland Express (“The Serpent’s Egg”). This intense focus on trade and economic networks highlights how the series presents ­post-war Defiance as ­re-appropriating the settler colonial form of St. Louis from the seventeenth to nineteenth century. The series stages the past of the city as simultaneously present and absent. While the Gateway Arch presents a visual reminder of the city’s

142 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio past, the city lacks other historical architecture as it had to be rebuilt after the Pale Wars.3 This constitutes another parallel to St. Louis which was partially reconstructed after a devastating fire in 1849 (Campbell 12–13). Large areas of Defiance have been rebuilt out of debris or corrugated iron (often still recognizable shipping containers). These buildings lend a makeshift, temporary quality to the city which evokes the “poor and informal housing” of slums (Davis 21–22) rather than of a city with a long urban history.4 This simultaneous presence and absence of the past ties in with the ­post-apocalyptic as a “study of what disappears and what remains, and how the remainder has been transformed” (Berger 7). Defiance ­re-conceptualizes frontier spaces through the dynamic spatial coexistence of the old and the new and a tension between temporariness and permanence. This arrangement counters conceptualizations of SF frontier spaces as completely new and in which “starting over” signifies leaving the past behind (Katerberg 5). While the surface architecture mostly signifies the “new” rather than the city’s past, the history of St. Louis reemerges from the underground. Defiance has been constructed on terraformed land but St. Louis lies buried in a cavernous space underneath the new city (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”). St. Louis constitutes an integral part of Defiance although it is no longer physically present on the surface. The representation of underground St. Louis exemplifies a central paradox: On the one hand, the abandoned skyscrapers, dilapidated cars, and debris emphasize that St. Louis has lost its functionality as a city. On the other hand, the ruins of Old St. Louis draw attention to the inextricability of past and present for the city and its inhabitants. As Ben Highmore notes, [r]uins signal the trauma of history, as the past remains in the present as a reminder of violence and destruction. Ruins, because they are fragments of the past, physical debris cluttering up the present, make the actuality of urban culture vividly evident; here the past haunts the present [4].

The ruins of old St. Louis articulate “the trauma of history” which haunts the inhabitants of Defiance. Traumatic memories have an ongoing effect on how citizens live in the narrative present: Both Nolan and Rafe struggle with the memory of the traumatizing Votan invasion when they see familiar sights (e.g., Jefferson Park). Nolan is reminded of the first attack on St. Louis while Rafe remembers his dreams of becoming a landscape photographer which he buried after the war as the terraformed landscapes reminded him that ­pre-war Earth was inevitably lost. While Defiance is constructed as “new,” its past and personal traumatic histories remain ongoing parts of what Highmore calls the



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“lived imaginary” (xi) of cities. These memories reshape Defiance into a ­neo-frontier space through a traumatic present historicity which contrasts with the imagined frontier “starting over” of Defiance.

“Interwoven Threads”: Rhythms of the (Frontier) City, Othering and Social Spaces in Defiance While the historicity of the frontier city becomes a means to reshape urban spaces, the representation of social spaces in Defiance can be productively read through an attention to the spatial and temporal dynamics of the urban. These dynamics emerge from how the series represents species and their lives in the city and in how narratives engage with U.S. settler history. In order to examine these dynamics, the concepts of “rhythmicity” and “reenactment” become useful. Rhythmicity theorizes the city as a point of encounter between different rhythms (Highmore xiii).5 The city is not fixed but is an ­ever-changing space that is defined by the coexisting rhythms of peoples’ lives, the movement of vehicles, etc. (8). In Defiance, rhythmicity reshapes the city into a complex heterogeneous entity which changes through the interactivity and ­i nterwoven-ness of its inhabitants. Narratives set in Defiance draw on processes of Othering but simultaneously move beyond the SF frontier myth through a historical reenactment of U.S. settler history. Reenactment does not designate a mere repetition but a critical ­re-examination of the past which seeks to recover this past without resorting to mythical narratives (Lamb 1). Reenactment becomes important for reading Defiance as the series not only critically engages with the conquest and expropriation of Native Americans but also questions the legacies of settler colonialism in the ­t wenty-first century (e.g., racism and violence). The representation of social spaces in Defiance does not merely adopt settler colonial modes of conceptualizing social spaces but reshapes frontier spaces through interconnectivity. A settler colonial population economy arranges social spaces via the distinguishable groups of the settler colonizer, “the indigenous colonized” and “differently categorized exogenous alterities” (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 16). Instead, the series’ engagement with the frontier city allows for reading Defiance as a social product of interconnectivities rather than of separated groups. Historians Jay Gitlin, Barbara Berglund and Adam Arenson read frontier cities as sites of encounter (2). Their approach can be tied to “contact zones” (Pratt, Imperial Eyes 4), i.e., sites in which different cultures “meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination” (4). For

144 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Gitlin, Berglund and Arenson, the frontier city functions as an enforced contact zone as the presence of “natives and newcomers, hemmed in by practical considerations as they shared streets, buildings, and interwoven lives, created the earliest matrix of the American urban experience” (2). This interwovenness of individuals also shapes Defiance. This is made clear in “A Well Respected Man” in which Datak Tarr explains to Lawkeeper Nolan that the Hollows (a district of Defiance) are “a pattern of interwoven threads.” The city is defined and brought into being by the interactions of individuals which trade on Market Street, individuals which bond or clash with each other in the NeedWant, individuals who debate political decisions among their own species and families, etc. The series therefore substitutes an awareness of “coexisting heterogeneity” (Massey 9) and “multiplicity of ­stories-so-far” (9) for the colonial mythical notion of disconnected groups within the population economy of a settler system. The city as a site of “interwoven threads” destabilizes notions of a homogenous settler collective even further as its social and physical spaces are marked by simultaneity. Defiance emphasizes the coexistence of various stories/events which are happening at the same time and which either run parallelly or converge at some point. The best example is a montage in “The Serpent’s Egg.” The camera establishes the city with an extreme long shot while simulating a flight over the city. It settles on the Gateway Arch and tracks to a close up shot of the Arch, followed by a tilt down to the buzzing streets filled with humans and Votans. After this, the camera cuts between different locations and the events which are simultaneously taking place—Castithan DJ Alak Tarr plays a new record on top of the Arch; his girlfriend Christie McCawley brings beverages to customers at a restaurant while looking up to the Arch; deputy Tommy LaSalle and Irathient Irisa Nolan have sexual intercourse in the Lawkeeper’s Office; prostitute Tirra is dancing with the Liberata barkeeper Jered at the counter of the Need Want; Irathient criminal Rynn leaves the city in a stolen rover; and Lawkeeper Nolan and Mayor Rosewater drink bourbon in a different section of the NeedWant. All of these simultaneous events are linked by the song which Alak plays on the record player. In this scene, the combination of videographic, aural, and narrative means frames ­neo-frontier spaces as sites of encounters and engages an essential feature of the urban: It conceptualizes the city as “a dynamic and living object that orchestrates a variety of competing rhythms” (Highmore xiii)—in this case, the distinct rhythms of coexisting lives which are ironically held together by the rhythm of the song. These rhythms are part of a larger rhythmic network which rethinks



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frontier spaces through the ­co-presence of mobility and immobility. According to Highmore, urban rhythms combine “durational aspects of place” and “spatial arrangements of tempo,” for instance in transportation systems, populations, and communication networks (9). In Defiance, different spatiotemporal rhythms overlap or coexist: While the NeedWant constitutes a space of immobility, rest, and leisure, the adjacent Market Street revolves around the mobility of both people and goods. In contrast to the flow of people, the actual means of transport on the streets are considerably slow as few individuals still use cars. This ­co-presence of mobility and immobility in Defiance counters the still influential (modernist) notion in urban studies that city life equates constant movement/mobility (Cresswell 7–8) and an “insistent acceleration of everyday life” (Highmore 144). Instead, the rhythmicity of the city here becomes a means to break down traditional forms of spatiality and to highlight the complexities of urban spaces. This rhythmic ­co-presence of mobility/immobility challenges the mythical notion of the frontier itself. As Gitlin, Berglund, and Arenson argue, the frontier constituted a “moving target” (4) and Turner emphasized mobility as its key characteristic as an “expansive power” drove settlers to constantly move out further and claim new land (204). The fusion of mobilities and immobilities in Defiance deconstructs this idealistic myth. This is exemplified through the life history of Joshua and Irisa Nolan. Both are introduced as living as scavengers in the Badlands through extreme long shots of their tiny “roller” driving through this barren landscape (“Pilot”). In a later voiceover, Irisa describes herself and Nolan as “children of the Badlands” who are at home in “[t]he wild, open spaces where the weak are afraid to go” (“Pilot”). The narrative, the spatial positioning, and Irisa’s ­self-perception all frame them in terms of the ­e ver-moving frontier hero and the ­self-reliant “lone hero” of the classical Western (Den Uyl 31).6 They live outside civilization as only wilderness presents a release from the urban constraints such as “boxing in” human beings in an artificial setting (“Pilot”). The narrative of the series, however, deconstructs this framing as both characters settle down in Defiance which becomes a permanent home to them (“Pilot,” “The Serpent’s Egg,” “Brothers in Arms”). Their daily lives in the city counter the constant mobility of the frontier as they are marked by both personal mobility (Joshua Nolan’s profession as a lawkeeper requires of him to move through the city and its hinterland, Irisa travels between Defiance and the Irathient Spirit Rider camp) and immobility/stability (both have an apartment to stay in and places which they frequent, e.g., the NeedWant and the Lawkeeper’s Office). The social spaces of Defiance are marked by Othering but Defiance

146 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio also challenges such thinking through a ­self-reflective ­post-settler colonial sensibility. In contrast to the few groups that other each other in Terra Nova (the colonists, the Sixers, the elites of 2149) and The 100 (the juvenile delinquents, the adult population of the Ark, and the Grounders), Defiance creates a complex system of Othering that includes humans, Castithans, Irathients, Indogenes, Biomen, Liberata, Sensoth and Volge. Othering becomes especially relevant between humans and Castithans and humans and Irathients, which is why I examine these three species and their social interrelations in more detail. Although the city functions as a site of coexisting heterogeneity, Othering structures the social spaces of the city. Characters resort to a colonial us/them binary. For instance, in “Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go” the human population and Irisa (an Irathient raised by a human) reject the Castithan cleansing ceremony in the Hollows. This ritual includes a public stoning of the culprit by the Castithan community as he has brought shame to his liro (caste). As the political leadership debates about this cultural practice, ­Ex-Mayor Nicolette “Nikki” Riordan argues that Castithans “are obsessive about their past, who their ancestors were, what liro they were born into. And they build their lives around ancient traditions that may once have had a purpose, but none of them can [now] agree on what it was.” Nikki’s perspective fuses a colonial framing of the Other as culturally and temporally “backward” (cf. Hall “The Spectacle of the Other” 242–243; Veracini, Settler Colonialism 41) with a traditional SF logic which revolves around “humankind’s universalistic pretensions to claim the Earth as the only significant centre” (Kerslake 11). Nikki codes Castithan culture as backward/primitive in comparison to the dominant human culture. Through Nikki, the series frames Castithans as (etymological) aliens, as “outsiders, always incomplete and disadvantaged ­vis-à-vis the citizens of the state they lived in” (­Csicsery-Ronay, “Some Things We Know About Aliens” 3) who are not willing to adapt or assimilate. As Lavigne notes, the series is marked by hierarchical political systems which position a “predominantly white, ­m iddle-class America” as superior to alien cultures (81–82). As such, this representation resurrects the SF frontier binary of Self/Other, with the Other marked as a negative counterpart to the positive Self. Nikki’s representation of the Castithans also raises the problematic issue of political control over social spaces. Politicians impose human culture on alien species living in Defiance by setting up assimilation as a norm. Nikki’s words suggest that the Castithans should abandon their traditions and should assimilate into the dominant cultural order as they live on Earth now—an argument which belies the acceptance of a



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multicultural community which purportedly constituted the impulse to found Defiance in the first place. This assimilationist drive even underlies the more ­open-minded politics of Mayor Amanda Rosewater: She advises Sukar, the leader of the Irathient Spirit Riders, that the human population’s hatred for them will disappear once the Irathients attempt to assimilate to human culture (“The Devil in the Dark”). Politicians try to manage Othering not by marginalization, segregation, or exclusion but by assimilation: The series seems to suggest that the Other can only be made safe if it disappears through assimilation—a typical stance in both settler colonialism and colonial SF texts (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 38–39; Kerslake 13). This stance reinforces the “indigenization of the settler” (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 39)7 as it sets up the human settler politic as the norm for all Others. This political tension between assimilation and imagined multiculturalism characterizes Defiance as ­neo-colonial: The social system replicates the contact zone as a site of encounter in which different political and cultural groups struggle for dominance and hierarchies are established (Pratt 4). The series, however, articulates the possibility of changes in social relations through episodes which engage with the past of the United States in a critical manner. The episode “The Devil in the Dark” is a case in point. It focuses on conflicts between the humans and the Irathient Spirit Riders. The series presents the human population of Defiance as rejecting Irathients due to biologistic ­r ace-thinking 8 and cultural stereotyping. The human population fears Irathients due to their visual “Other-ness”: Irathients have bronze skin, golden irises, a ridged nose and painted tribal markings—all markings which evoke the stereotypical Native American of the Western (Granade 83). This perception of racial difference also results in cultural stereotyping. Stereotypes constitute simplistic and selective representations which single out assumed racial and cultural traits of the Other in order to fix it as something “different” in a negative way in comparison to the Self (Hall “The Spectacle of the Other” 258–259; Bhaba 75). As Irathient leader Sukar remarks, the human population sees Irathients as child thieves and as engaging in debased sexual relations with livestock (“The Devil in the Dark”). This mode of representation aligns with the colonial stereotype of the ­non-white, violent, animalistic, rapist Other as identified by Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks 86–99) and Stuart Hall (“The Spectacle of the Other” 243–249).9 Yet, narratives destabilize these Self/Other distinctions through a ­post-settler colonial sensibility which critically reflects on the history of the United States. The episode “The Devil in the Dark” highlights that violence is a historical structural feature of Defiance: Sukar reminds

148 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Mayor Rosewater that “the soil of Defiance is soaked with Irathient blood.” In fact, Defiance replicates the Western history of the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth century: As New Western History has shown, Native American tribes were expulsed and expropriated from their native lands by the settlers (Hixson viii, 4–7; Veracini, Settler Colonialism 27) and “regenerative violence” led to genocidal massacres, e.g., on Wounded Knee reservation in 1890 (Hixson 142–144). Moreover, the “primary unresolved issue of conquest” (Limerick 27) remains a political issue in the ­t wenty-first century (Elkins and Pedersen 1). A similar trajectory underlies the history of Defiance. Irathient settlers were violently expropriated by human land contractors who wanted to gain access to the resources on their land (“The Devil in the Dark”). Moreover, the Irathients were (largely) eliminated from the population economy eight years before the narrative sets in: They refused vaccinations during a plague and rose up against the city council’s forced vaccinations, resulting in a massacre in which 1000 Irathients were killed (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” “The Devil in the Dark”). The narrative here engages in “historical reenactment” (Lamb 1). Historical reenactment reexamines the past: Through the very practice of reenactment, the past becomes “more intimately part of the present and […] it comes so close we shall get to know history as it really is” (Lamb 1, italics added). Historical reenactments can therefore refute idealized narratives such as the frontier myth. This is what happens in “The Devil in the Dark”: The narrative replays U.S. settler history but uses this to highlight the ongoing struggles between humans and Irathients which are based on a history of expropriation and violence. The narrative emphasizes the ongoing relevance of engaging with that history in daily interactions between humans and Irathients in the narrative present. The episode ends on a reconciliatory note as Mayor Rosewater returns the land to the descendants of the original Irathient settlers—itself a reenactment of the U.S. “­p ost-settler compact” between the political government and Indigenous tribes which restored sovereignty, rights, and land to Native American tribes (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 107, 114). Despite these attempts, violence and racism remain an ongoing structural feature of Defiance, as evidenced in “Goodbye Blue Sky” and “If I Ever Leave This World Alive.”10 Ultimately, Defiance reshapes frontier spaces through a ­self-reflective historicity: The series presents history as an ongoing process which connects the spaces and peoples of the past and present and not as something which can be “started over.” Although Othering shapes the series, Defiance’s state as urban contact zone creates opportunities for redefining social and cultural spaces



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through interactions between species. As Homi Bhaba points out, cultural and social borders can also become a generative “Third Space” (37) in which “the boundary becomes the place from which something begins its presencing” (5, italics in original). In contrast to Lavigne’s reading of Defiance as an illusory ­post-racial and multicultural society (88), I argue that cultural interactions between humans and different Votan species enable the creation of lived spaces of reciprocal transculturation. Transculturation traditionally refers to indigenous cultures strategically appropriating selective materials of the colonizer’s culture (Pratt 6). In contrast, transculturation in Defiance allows for reciprocal, ­non-hierarchical cultural encounters. For instance, the wedding ceremony for the human bride Christie McCawley and Castithan groom Alak Tarr in “The Bride Wore Black” creates a new cultural space. It fuses Castithan tradition (Castithan vocal music and decorum) with human traditions (the bridal veil and marital kiss of the couple).11 The sociocultural spaces of Defiance are constantly negotiated between individuals and cultures and therefore move beyond binaries of Self/ Other and us/them. In contrast to the culturally uniform colony in Terra Nova, Defiance’s ­neo-frontier spaces are an ­ever-changing product as individuals and cultural groups constantly bring new transcultural spaces into being. Despite these transculturations, Defiance cannot be read as a stereotypical melting pot of cultures. The series uses videographic multifocalization to foster a cultural perspectivism: The focalization on characters from different species juxtaposes culturally specific ways of perceiving, conceiving, and living which ­co-exist and are not subjected to one another. Multifocalization introduces a “multiplicity of heterogeneous points of view, which all converge in a given place” (Westphal 122). In Defiance, heterogeneous cultural points of view by citizens converge in the city but their perceptions diverge significantly: For the human population—the Rosewaters, the traders, and Joshua Nolan— Defiance constitutes a utopian place of multiculturalism and “starting over” after the Pale Wars (“Pilot”). For the Castithan traders and Datak Tarr, Defiance constitutes a place of economic opportunity but also a place in which their cultural distinctiveness has to be retained (by preserving customs such as the cleansing ceremony, the worshipping of ­Ra-Yet-Su, and the use of their native language).12 For the Irathients, Defiance represents a space of cultural and historical violence directed at them (“The Devil in the Dark,” “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”) which is why they live in a camp in the Badlands where they can practice their spiritual culture. Multifocalization here functions as a formal device which reinforces a reading of the city and its hinterland as

150 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio a complex, relational, and ­ever-changing construct which is perceived, conceived, and lived in both in distinct cultural ways but is also defined by “interwoven threads.”

A Network of Threads and Histories Both Terra Nova and Defiance reshape SF frontier spaces through narrative and formal means in distinct but complementary ways. Terra Nova ­re-conceptualizes colonial spaces through a redefinition of place and transgressivity. Defiance creates ­neo-frontier spaces through a selfreflective historicity, interwovenness, and rhythmicity. Settler colonial frontier thinking still plays an important role in how the city is conceptualized (its frontier mythical narrative of origin, the settler colonial layout of the city, and a recourse to Othering). However, Defiance’s reenactment of U.S. history articulates a ­post-settler sensibility through historical ­self-reflectivity: The repetition of the colonial past functions as a means for critical interrogation and revision: The series replaces a mythical “starting over” with the city as an ongoing place that is shaped by its past and present history. Temporality and historicity in the series do not only question the legacy of U.S. settler history on the level of narrative as is often the case in SF frontier fiction (Katerberg 5; Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 27–28). Instead, they ­re-conceptualize frontier spaces as ongoing historical constructs in which past and present always coexist. Defiance also departs from mythical SF frontier settler collectives in terms of a spatiality which is defined by interwovenness and simultaneity. By engaging with the dynamics of the contact zone, the city breaks with the fixity of settler colonies, opening up a “Thirdspace” that is marked by a ­non-hierarchical simultaneity and openness/changeability: The series presents different peoples and events as ­co-existing in the same space at the same time, mobilities and immobilities become coextensive rather than mutually exclusive, and Defiance’s inhabitants negotiate multiple ways of perceiving space. Moreover, the city holds generative potential by fostering transculturations and creating ongoing new transcultural spaces. Ultimately, the ­neo-frontier spaces of Defiance challenge SF frontier binaries such as Self/Other, mobility/immobility, settler/native and the series imagines “interwoven threads” instead of distinct spaces for humans and the Votan species. Simultaneously, Defiance uses its speculative setting and narratives in order to reflect on popular culture and the decolonized world of the ­t wenty-first century: It highlights the ongoing importance of the settler past for the present and problematizes the colonial legacies of racism and violence.



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From Spaces of Colonial Belonging to Spaces of Ecosystemic Belonging The SF frontier binary of wilderness/civilization plays an important role for Defiance. However, Defiance complicates this binary by engaging with the wasteland as a specific type of space. The wasteland of Defiance (the “Badlands”) presents a different form of environmental spaces in comparison to Terra Nova: In Terra Nova, the jungle constitutes a natural space; i.e., it developed without any human interference and is largely untouched by human activity. In contrast, the ­post-apocalyptic Earth in Defiance is the product of terraforming by the Votans; it is marked by an artificial amalgamation of different terrestrial and Votan ecosystems. However, this very state as the product of terraforming enables possibilities for an ecological rethinking of frontier spaces. As Chris Pak notes, terraforming in SF constitutes not only a negative intervention into natural ecosystems but also “allows us to examine and evaluate our historical relationship to our home planet and to postulate alternatives to current practices” (7). In following Pak, the terraformed spaces of Defiance can be read as a cognitively estranged reflection on human processes of reshaping Earth’s ecosystems through terraforming, geoengineering, and climate change in the ­real-world present.

The “Big, Bad Outside World”? Defiance as a City and the Wilderness/Civilization Binary While all three series engage with the wilderness/civilization binary, Defiance remains poised between SF frontier mythical conceptualizations of the city and wilderness and a reconceptualization of the relationship between the Votan/human and the ­non-human. Defiance reworks many settler colonial binaries through complex rhythms, interrelations, and acculturations but it still ­re-appropriates a wilderness/ civilization binary: The series stages the city of Defiance as deriving its identity from a contrast with the surrounding Badlands. As Defiance constitutes a frontier city, it is defined by its proximity to unsettled territory (Mahoney 150). This territory is coded by the inhabitants as both a wilderness and a ­post-apocalyptic wasteland. These perceptions correspond to traditional views of the Industrial Revolution period in which cities were coded as the “explicit antitype of nature” (Cameron 36). Alak Tarr compares Defiance to the “big, bad outside world” in his morning address to all citizens (“The Serpent’s Egg”). Wilderness surrounding the city is hence perceived by the population along Biblical lines, i.e.,

152 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio as “a place to which one came only against one’s will, and always in fear and trembling” (Cronon 71). This fear is also expressed in the layout of the city as the Stasis Net physically separates wilderness from the city. It predetermines a negative view of the terraformed wilderness as alien and dangerous—as something that the city needs to be defended from. The construction of this imagined and videographic wilderness/civilization binary translates the frontier myth to an imagined future instead of destabilizing mythical binaries. The representation of wilderness as a site of danger also problematically defines the relationship between humans/Votans and animals. Defiance reinforces a traditional SF colonial view of “wild” animals as an absolute Other to the human (Vint, Animal Alterity 112). The series presents characters as following a Darwinian protocol of interaction with animals—“eat or be eaten” (Nash 10). Encounters often revolve around lethal danger to the main characters—Nolan is attacked by saberwolves (“Pilot”) and the ­crayfish-like Scylla Formicidae (tellingly called “hellbugs”) kill and feed on citizens of Defiance (“The Devil in the Dark”). ­Shot-reverse shots emphasize the “eat or be eaten” struggle in which only one opponent can survive (“Pilot,” “The Devil in the Dark”). In the “The Devil in the Dark,” extreme ­long-shots, accompanied by rustling sounds in the forest, and the violent dragging away of the first victim employ standard horror videography. Doc Ywell and Nolan frame the hellbugs through repulsive imagery—they emphasize that they consume the bone marrow of their prey, use Votoformic acid to access their prey’s bodies, and line their nests with flesh (“The Devil in the Dark”). This stance is further strengthened by visuals: The gaze of the camera lingers on the ­h alf-chewed up torso of a victim in the forest and the torn-apart body of a customer at the NeedWant. This representation frames animals as inevitably abject. As psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva notes, the abject collapses borders between the Self and Other (3–4) and creates feelings of disgust, revulsion, and outright rejection (2–3). The abject in Defiance works through the mutilated bodies of the victims which signify what needs to be rejected by the living body (blood, body parts) in order to continue living (3). What makes these bodies abject here is not their status as corpses but the animal which has turned them into abject objects—the bodies ­stand-in for the assumed abjectness of the hellbugs themselves. Defiance’s representation of animals here resembles the representation of dinosaurs in Terra Nova. However, unlike Terra Nova, Defiance lacks a critical perspective and does not allow for opportunities for companion species relationships. Defiance’s focus on ­a bject-ness fuses animals and wilderness together into a space of dangerous Otherness. As Sherryl Vint points



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out, in colonial discourses “wild” animals functioned as a symbolic representative for their native environment (Animal Alterity 113). In this case, the abjectness of the hellbugs reinforces the abjectness of wilderness outside of Defiance. The “big, bad outside world” becomes something that needs to be separated from the self/body of the citizens of Defiance. This is not only due to the physical inhospitability of the Badlands but also because of the presence of the abject animal Other which threatens the survival of the inhabitants. These representations in Defiance mutually reinforce a traditional image of wilderness as an abstract space of danger in the frontier myth rather than acknowledging the relational complexities of environmental spaces. Despite this framing, the mobility of characters located within the Badlands allows for a more complex ecosystemic reading. Joshua and Irisa Nolan at first seem to contemplate the Badlands along traditional views of a frontier wilderness. The frontier myth coded wilderness as “the last bastion of rugged individualism” and a realm of freedom from the constraints of civilized life (Cronon 77). For Irisa and Nolan, the Badlands constitute a site of freedom in terms of individualism and economic opportunity, enabled by their constant mobility. While this aligns them with the frontier hero, it also indicates a changed lived relation to wilderness. As Peter Adey highlights, mobility is always “a lived relation; it is an orientation to oneself, to others and the world” (1). Mobility therefore holds the potential to relate differently to spaces and to reshape the relation between the human and the ­non-human. Irisa and Nolan relate to their environment through moving. This lived relation shapes their view of the terraformed world as they believe that “[t]his world has no natives. Which means that it belongs to everyone” (“Pilot”). While this statement allows for a range of interpretations, I read it as a challenge to frontier thinking. The claim that Earth lacks natives and belongs to everybody articulates an implicit critique of what Val Plumwood calls “ ­hyper-rationalism” (11). ­Hyper-rationalism assumes a stance of “human superiority, reason, mastery and manipulation [of nature], ­human-centredness and instrumentalism” (11)—a set of thinking closely tied to the capitalist agendas which underlie frontier colonization. Irisa and Nolan’s belief seems to support the instrumentalization of nature—if the world belongs to everybody this seems to justify capitalist exploitation.13 However, their claim can more productively be read in terms of a “­part-of-nature thinking” (Otto 24): As the planet has been radically transformed through terraforming there are no entities which could claim a singular nativity to Earth: The new Earth belongs to “everybody”—humans, Irathients, Castithans, Liberata, Indogenes, Sensoths, Gulanee, Volge but also a new set of flora

154 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio and fauna which all comprise interdependent parts of new ecosystems. The ­neo-frontier spaces of the planet thus reframe colonial notions of belonging in terms of an ecosystemic belonging which highlights how different species share the same lived environment instead of how single actors attempt to appropriate nature for their own purposes. While this ecosystemic rethinking seems to only be possible for characters who move within the Badlands, the lived spaces of Defiance also destabilize the wilderness/civilization binary. The city presents a ­re-negotiation between the human/Votan and ­non-human/non–Votan in the form of a “natural city” (Stefanovic and Scharper 4), not unlike in Terra Nova. An important difference lies in Defiance’s state as a frontier city which depends on mining Gulanite for its survival. Defiance cannot be read as a ­self-reflective, ­self-conscious natural city. Nevertheless, Defiance exhibits a (partial) tendency toward rethinking urban frontier spaces through sustainability relations. However, the citizens adopt sustainability not due to an ­a nti-capitalist agenda but out of necessity. As Defiance is isolated from other cities, ­self-sufficiency in terms of energy production—a key feature of the natural city (Cobb, Jr., 201)—becomes paramount. In order to satisfy this requirement, the city’s energy supply partially relies on renewable sources of energy (e.g., wind parks) but the citizens also still depend on burning fossil fuels such as gulanite (“Pilot”). A similar argument can be made concerning the transportation systems within the city. Defiance’s citizens use alternative means of transportation which are typical for natural cities (Cobb, Jr., 197), for instance, walking or biking instead of travel by car or by air (“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”). However, these means of transportation are again born from necessity—most citizens walk because they do not have the means to purchase cars and air travel has only been abandoned due to debris and radiation in the atmosphere (“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”). Despite this lack of a critical environmental consciousness, the mere existence of wind parks and alternative means of transportation moves beyond the civilization/wilderness binary: Defiance ­re-conceptualizes the city as a product of the interrelation between the human and the ­non-human rather than something that is separate and autonomous from nature. Therefore, the series challenges imagined frontier binaries of wilderness/civilization, culture/nature, and human/­non-human through the lived spaces of the city which call the very validity of these binaries into question. The representation of buildings even opens up the possibility for a changed relationship between the human and the ­non-human beyond one of exploitation. As Frank Cunningham notes, an ecological approach



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to the city contemplates built and natural environments as integrated and interfacing with each other (51). In Defiance, two buildings combine built and natural environments—the Darby Building and Doc Ywell’s practice. Both buildings fuse plants with artificially constructed structures: Extreme long shots and close ups of the Darby Building show that its outer walls are covered by ivy. Medium long shots of Doc Ywell’s practice reveal that it contains a medicinal plant garden and that various Votan plants have “colonized” the ceiling, shelves, and cupboards. The ivy on the walls of the Darby Building calls attention to the ­co-existence of nature and built structures in the city. Doc Ywell’s practice explores a different relation between humanoid species and the natural environment. On the one hand, the plants have practical purposes—providing ingredients for cures, a colonial rationale which attributes value to the plants due to their exploitability for human(oid) gain. On the other hand, the rampant growth and the fact that the plants in the medicinal garden are regrown after being used, indicates a respect for natural life and sustainable use. Both the representation of Darby Building and Doc Ywell’s practice suggest that the successful ongoing sustenance of the city is not ensured by a conquest of wilderness but through interdependencies between the human and the ­non-human.

Spaces of Absence? Reading the Badlands as Wasteland Apart from a shift toward a natural city, the series further breaks down the wilderness/civilization binary through adding the wasteland. The wasteland does not constitute a clearly defined space but rather a category of land that is marked by the absence of people and ­human-made structures (Di Palma 3). The concept becomes productive here as the Badlands destabilize the traditional category of “free land” that informs the SF frontier myth. The difference to the other series lies in the extent of cognitive estrangement of the landscapes in Defiance. While Terra Nova and The 100 rely on defamiliarization, their spaces retain recognizable forms of a natural environment—the Cretaceous jungle in Terra Nova and the North American forest in The 100. Defiance, in contrast, imagines a landscape which has become alien and unrecognizable through terraforming (“Pilot”). The terraformed landscape constitutes a Suvinian “novum” (4) which extends to the entirety of the ­post-apocalyptic world, with the wasteland becoming a space that is radically defamiliarized. As a terraformed space, the wasteland in Defiance constitutes a significant alteration of ­post-apocalyptic wastelands in ­t wenty-first-

156 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio century fiction that are usually marked by a fusion and/or ­co-presence of an “old world” and a “new world” within the same setting. James Berger notes that the ­p ost-apocalypse is always “a study of what disappears and what remains, and of how the remainder has been transformed” (7). Other scholars emphasize that a ­p ost-apocalyptic world does not break with the past but is marked by a degree of continuity with the ­pre-catastrophic world (Brodman 251, Doyle 100). Postapocalyptic worlds are usually tied to the “old world” by the ubiquity of now ­non-functional objects (Machat 63–72) or ruins (74). The Badlands do not fit this template as the “old world” has been erased by terraforming, resulting in an entirely new geography which no longer demonstrates continuities with the “old world.”14 The Badlands are defined by negation and the absence of humanmade structures which seems to tie them to the “free land” of the frontier myth. As art historian Vittoria di Palma emphasizes, “[t]he wasteland is a place, but even more it is a category of land, a category united not by consistent physical qualities—whether topographical or ecological—but, rather, by their absence” (3). Essentially, the wasteland constitutes the binary opposite of “civilization” (4). In Defiance, the wasteland is framed as a space of negative absence: Alak Tarr’s comment on the “big, bad outside world” in “The Serpent’s Egg” hinges on a positive contrast with the Overland Express Coach (a sign of civilization). The videographic framing of the Badlands reinforces this coding as extreme long shots emphasize their “emptiness.” The Badlands— typically for wastelands—lack sources of food and water, settlements, buildings, population, and farms (Di Palma 3) and hence have no use value for humans and Votans. On the one hand, this absence of “civilization” ties the Badlands to traditional conceptualizations of frontier wilderness spaces (Cronon 77–78). On the other hand, the postapocalyptic wasteland in Defiance is a space that needs to be crossed and not to be conquered or transformed into a garden or agricultural space (Di Palma 37–42). Defiance introduces a ­non-colonial relation between the human and the ­non-human: The wasteland is acknowledged and respected as a space in its own right, in contrast to the frontier imperative to gauge its use value and to “civilize” the land by turning it into property. The Badlands cannot be read as a complete space of absence. The series focuses on different characters who display culturally specific ways of perceiving and living in the wasteland. The Badlands are hence presented as a realm of multiplicity and contradictoriness. As Di Palma contends, the wasteland is a cultural construct whose very abstraction allows for it to be framed according to differing evaluative views (42). In



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Defiance, different ­co-existing views by characters diversify the wasteland. Irisa and Joshua Nolan perceive it as a violent, unorderly realm beyond humanitarian and ethical laws (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”)—a perception which resembles the American Western frontier. In contrast, Spirit Rider Rynn sees the wasteland as having its own laws. She explains to Nolan: “You have your laws. Out here, we have our own. A man who risks his life for another cannot be left to die” (“The Serpent’s Egg”). Rynn’s comment asserts the presence of inhabitants in the wasteland against its perceived emptiness and it highlights how perceptions of the wasteland depend on spatial and cultural position. Such relational perspectives destabilize the binaries of civilization/wasteland and presence/absence through multiplicity and cultural associations that depart from representing the Badlands in terms of “free land.” Although the series rejects the emptiness of the frontier myth, dynamics of regeneration/renewal tie the Badlands to frontier ways of living. Nolan and Irisa frame the “Badlands” as lawless, violent, and dangerous due to the absence of juridical institutions. Yet, the series stages the same lack of “civilized” structures as an opportunity for freedom and mobility. Not unlike the mythical frontier (Turner 200, Lehan 6–7), the wasteland has been associated with a “powerful utopian promise” (Di Palma 42) as it can provide a space for resistance and the formation of alternative societies (42). For Irisa and Nolan, the wasteland presents an opportunity through positive absence: There, they can live differently from regulated and heavily populated cities such as Defiance and Las Vegas. The Badlands here participate in the utopian undertones of the mythical West as a “realm of romantic destiny” (Lehan 54) ­vis-à-vis materialism and urbanism. In the Badlands, this notion of positive absence is disconnected from a colonial dominance over environmental spaces: The series locates alternative ways of living not in making the land productive through agriculture or industry but in living in the wasteland as it is. Nevertheless, the Badlands are not natural but are the product of technological interventions into the ecosystems of Earth. As Di Palma notes, contemporary wastelands in art are not natural spaces of human absence but are the product of human “industrial excesses” (3), extrapolating from, for example, the U.S. military testing site on the island of Vieques (1–2). Such sites fuel the ­p ost-apocalyptic imagination in fiction in which technology no longer transforms natural wastelands into gardens but turns natural spaces into wastelands (232). The Badlands as a terraformed wasteland articulate an implicit critique of human technological interventions in the natural environment as

158 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio they resemble fictional landscapes of extrapolated climate change: While the source for the transformation of natural spaces in Defiance is alien rather than ­human-induced, the visuals and narratives are very familiar for viewers and readers of ­post-apocalyptic climate change fiction.15 In a sense, the Badlands can be read as a cognitively estranged reflection on global technological transformations of Earth in the ­real-world present.

Living in a World of Ecosystemic Belonging The representation of environmental spaces in Defiance engages with frontier binaries such as wilderness/civilization and city/wasteland but also creates ­neo-frontier spaces through a clash between imagined spaces and lived spaces. On the one hand, representations of wilderness and the Badlands as a wasteland draw on the (SF) frontier myth: They are framed as sites of danger (the existence of the Stasis Net, the shared “­a bject-ness” of wilderness spaces and animals), are defined by the absence of ­human-made structures, but also hold a potential for regeneration/renewal. On the other hand, the series challenges these mythical elements on a spatial level. While Terra Nova works with the notion of place and the sublime, Defiance instead redefines the lived spaces of the city and the wasteland through multiplicity and complexity. Moreover, the series employs mobility as a lived relation to spaces which becomes a means for departing from the SF frontier myth. While Defiance does not involve a ­self-reflective critique of industrial capitalism (as is the case in Terra Nova), the representation of the city of Defiance holds the potential to change the relationship between the human/ Votans and ­non-human environment through a sustainable interdependence. The representation of the wasteland similarly reshapes frontier assumptions: The series destabilizes the idea of an “empty space”: It constructs the wasteland as a relational space, whose meaning depends on the spatial and cultural positioning of different characters and groups. Defiance also divorces the utopian potential of the Badlands from the colonial dictum of transforming environmental spaces for human gain. Instead, the series leaves behind notions of colonial belonging and articulates an ecosystemic belonging which encompasses humans, Votans, and all ­non-human species on Earth. This reshaping of wilderness/wasteland does not only speculatively reshape frontier spaces. It also critically reflects on contemporary processes of altering the world through terraforming/geoengineering and anthropogenic climate change in the ­t wenty-first century.



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­Post-Apocalyptic Terraforming Riskscapes and Technological ­World-Making In contrast to the ongoing climate change crisis in Terra Nova, the ­post-apocalyptic world in Defiance is shaped by a global catastrophe in the narrative past. Catastrophe usually refers to “an event that is believed to have a very low probability of materializing but that if it does materialize will produce a harm so great and sudden as to seem discontinuous with the flow of events that preceded it” (Posner 6). It here takes the form of an SF alien invasion by the Votans which includes a terraforming of Earth in order to recreate Votan ecosystems. Hence, terraforming constitutes a key technological risk in the series. It usually “involves processes aimed at adapting the environmental parameters of alien planets for habitation by Earthbound life, and it includes [technological] methods for modifying a planet’s climate, atmosphere, topology, and ecology” (Pak 1).16 This definition does not exactly fit the narrative scenario of Defiance. In contrast to most SF, Defiance does not revolve around terraforming alien planets for human habitation.17 The concept still proves valuable for analysis, especially considering that recent scholarship has also begun to use the term for referring to ­large-scale modifications of Earth itself (Pak 1; Masco 329).18 In fact, the representation of a terraformed world in Defiance can be read as a cognitively estranged analogy for how global spaces on Earth are reshaped through ­technologically-induced processes which are at the heart of climate change risk scenarios. The concept of analogy derives from the Latin ana logon (=“according to a ratio”). It was used in ancient mathematics to establish “a similarity in relationships which are proportional” in order to calculate unknown distances by recourse to already known, related distances (Lahiri 1). The concept later took on meanings of “inferring [a] similarity of function” (2). For my purposes here, analogy refers to a similarity of the form of representation: While Terra Nova and Defiance engage with different risk scenarios, their representation draws on analogous formal and narrative means for constructing a ­post-apocalyptic world.

Terraforming/War Riskscapes: Spaces of Catastrophe, Fallout, and the ­Post-Apocalyptic World Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 all employ risk scenarios which involve technologies in order to construct ­neo-frontier spaces. Terra Nova extrapolates contemporary climate change into a speculative future and a ­long-standing concern with ­high-risk technological systems

160 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio informs The 100. Nevertheless, Defiance engages with riskscapes in a unique manner as it focuses on the uncertain fallout of terraforming rather than on terraforming as a risk in itself. Fallout refers to unexpected outcomes of specific events, often in the form of ­long-term catastrophic side effects (Masco 310). By engaging with fallout—i.e., the post-apocalyptic aftermath of risk—the ­neo-frontier spaces of Defiance ­re-conceptualize risk and riskscapes through the lens of a postapocalyptic world. Defiance breaks with both SF frontier spaces and the contemporary world risk society in which risk functions as a futurist structure (Beck, World at Risk 9). Defiance recodes risk as a presentist structure within the ­p ost-apocalyptic world, turning global and local riskscapes into spaces of uncertainty. Uncertainty denotes a lack of knowledge (Pettersen 40, Beck, World at Risk 8). Risk research ties together risk and uncertainty in that (­man-made) risks and their future effects are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Hence, uncertainty is the effect of risk (Beck, World at Risk 15). In contrast, the lack of knowledge and the unpredictability/uncontrollability of the ­post-apocalyptic riskscapes in Defiance blur risk and uncertainty into each other. In Defiance, the representation of a terraformed Earth functions as a means to interrogate the catastrophic fallout of terraforming on natural spaces. While fallout is most often associated with nuclear weaponry and test sites during the Cold War (Masco 311), the general definition of the term proves valuable here. Fallout refers to “an unexpected supplement to an event, a precipitation that is in motion, causing a kind of ­long-term and unexpected damage: it is the aftermath, the reverberation, the negative side effect” (310). This definition can be tied to reading technologically produced risks as ­non-calculable, manufactured uncertainties (Beck, World at Risk 7–8). In Defiance, the terraformed world emerges as a manufactured uncertainty whose fallout could not be calculated in advance. Terraforming has resulted in a fractured environment in which alien and terrestrial ecosystems have fused, including hills covered with Votan plants but also North American coniferous forests (“Pilot,” “The Devil in the Dark”). This amalgamation of ecosystems has led to evolutionary adaptations, e.g., the saberwolves retain anatomic markers of wolves and spiders. Terraforming in Defiance here can be read as an implicit critique of the SF frontier but also of contemporary ­techno-scientific ways of thinking which still believe in the human capability to completely master and shape spaces through technology (Masco 326; Plumwood 6, Otto 24).19 By highlighting the catastrophic, uncertain fallout of such technologies on natural ecosystems, the ­neo-frontier spaces of Defiance question the ongoing reliance on “ ­hyper-rationalism” (Plumwood 11) and a belief in total technological



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control over ecosystems: The terraformed Earth is not the expected outcome but an “unknown unknown” (Pettersen 42)—the catastrophic fallout of terraforming has created an unpredictable space which is characterized by uncertainty rather than ­techno-rationalist certainties. This state of uncertainty also reshapes the very nature of risks. As Ulrich Beck and Jerry Busby point out, risk in the ­t wenty-first century has become inherently recursive (Beck, World at Risk 15; Busby 73). This assessment holds true for terraforming and global war in Defiance: They have not only radically transformed the landscape but have also engendered other overlapping risks as their fallout. For instance, the remnants of Votan ships in orbit hold catastrophic potential in two different forms—“Arkfall” and the ­so-called “razor rain.” Both collapse usually distinct forms of technological and environmental risk.20 Natural catastrophes such as storms or an asteroid impact are reimagined as the unintended results of technology: Derelict Votan vessels become artificial asteroids which endanger Defiance and debris, which enters the atmosphere, results in widespread ­shrapnel-like razor rain (“Goodbye Blue Sky”). By fusing different forms of risks, Defiance departs from SF frontier spaces which are mostly dominated by one type of risk, e.g., technological risk (risk technologies), viral risk (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 4) or ­social-political risk (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 123– 124). While these risks can interact in SF frontier spaces, Defiance goes one step further as its riskscapes are marked by complex forms of uncertainty which arise from the fusion of different risks. The uncertainty of the ­post-apocalyptic riskscapes of Defiance does not merely extrapolate from the world risk society but transforms it through unpredictability and incalculability. While the political leadership of Defiance contemplates natural catastrophes as calculable and predictable, Nolan warns the citizens that razor rain consists of “sudden barrages of metal shrapnel” and “[t]he squalls are unpredictable and can form anywhere at any time” (“Goodbye Blue Sky”). His warning indicates a rethinking of the relationship between risk, space, and time: The post-apocalyptic world has become a speculative extension of the world risk society in which risks can no longer be predicted (“unpredictable”), localized in a specific territory (“anywhere at any time”), or fully controlled (Beck, “Living in the World Risk Society” 333–334; Beck, World at Risk 52–54). At the same time, risk no longer functions as a means to anticipate the future in order to take preemptive measures (Beck, World at Risk 9) but as an unpredictable structure of the ­post-apocalyptic world. One of the strengths of the ­post-apocalyptic lies in its capacity for “examining and enacting the dangerous possibilities for human and nonhuman life

162 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio beyond the artifice of revelation” (Doyle 103). The world risk society is predicated on the revelation that risk has become uncertain and unpredictable (Beck, World at Risk 8–9, 14) and that only enforced cosmopolitanism can form an adequate response to global risks (World at Risk 56–66). In Defiance, the Pale Wars and terraforming have already radically altered human and Votan relations to spaces. The ­post-apocalyptic world is defined by the lived presence—and not the revelation—of risks: As Rafe McCawley tells Nolan “[p]redicting the future is a sucker’s game” (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”). In Defiance, risks are no longer something to be revealed and preemptively managed but something to be engaged with and lived with on a daily basis.

Perceiving and Living in the Riskscapes of Defiance: Risk Perspectives and Risk Positions in a ­Post-Apocalyptic World Apart from presenting risk as presentist, a focus on risk perception offers a useful angle for examining how Defiance departs from both the SF frontier and Terra Nova and The 100. Risk perception takes into account that risks are perceived by individuals via a range of psychological, social, cultural, and institutional factors (Slovic xxiii). It is useful for studying the ­post-apocalyptic riskscapes of Defiance as they are perspectival constructs. Terra Nova and The 100 also present multiple perspectives on specific risks by different characters. Defiance stands out because the series ­re-conceptualizes risks as ambivalent and not as either purely negative (as is often the case in ­post-apocalyptic SF) or purely positive (e.g., the positive view of ­risk-taking in the SF frontier myth). Defiance engages with the complexities of risk in a way which speaks not only to SF frontier spaces but also to riskscapes of the ­t wenty-first century. While Defiance introduces new riskscapes, they are not homogeneous constructs but relational spaces in which risks take on differing meanings. Risks affect the inhabitants of Defiance equally as global ­environmental-technological risks create what Beck calls a “shared global space of threat—without exit” (World at Risk, 56). Global spaces are defined by a “boomerang effect” as risks present dangers for all social strata beyond factors of class, nation, or race (Beck, Risk Society 23, italics in original). Despite these common threats, various characters perceive and conceive of the same risks and riskscapes in different ways. As ­Müller-Mahn and Everts highlight, riskscapes are “never one landscape, which is the same to all observers, but multiple landscapes depending on the range of possible perspectives” (25). In Defiance, this holds true for how different characters conceptualize the fractured ecosystems



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as positive and negative. Some inhabitants code the ­p ost-apocalyptic world as a purely negative riskscape: Alak Tarr’s comment on “the big, bad outside world” is predicated on the ubiquity of risks outside the city, whereas he codes Defiance as a safe space for survival (“The Serpent’s Egg”). Similarly, Amanda codes the risks of the “new world” as a challenge to all species who have to continuously fight for survival (“Pilot”). Here, risk is coded as negative in terms of an existential “matter of life and death” (Beck, “Living in the World Risk Society” 337). The series’ framing of these riskscapes as negative codes Earth as a new (social) frontier. This narrative strategy utilizes the ubiquity of risks in the ­post-apocalyptic world in order to code all survivors as (involuntary) frontier heroes who have to display strength, inventiveness, and resilience in order to survive (Turner 226–227, Den Uyl 31). This is made explicit by former mayor Nikki: “In this world we live in, there’s no place for the fragile” (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”). Datak Tarr even takes one step further: He validates a restructuring of social spaces according to a ­f rontier-inspired Social Darwinian “survival of the fittest” (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”). 21 Nikki and Datak utilize conceptions of risk and frontier spaces in order to validate a Social Darwinian logic of organization, hinging on a typical notion of “racial hierarchy and supremacy” (Claeys, “The ‘Survival of the Fittest’” 238) which they deem to be the appropriate response to the risks of the post-apocalyptic world. However, Defiance does not singularly represent riskscapes as lifethreatening dangers or as a means for reordering social spaces according to Social Darwinian principles. It also stages riskscapes as positive opportunities. For Joshua and Irisa Nolan the risk of “Arkfall”—the crash of derelict Votan ships on Earth—becomes ambivalent. On the one hand, they perceive Arkfall as negative as it endangers the population of Defiance (“Goodbye Blue Sky”). On the other hand, Arkfall creates positive financial opportunities for them. In financial risk management, risk is also tied to reward/profit (Corelli 3–4) as “risk entails the opportunity of a good expected return in exchange” (1, italics mine). For Irisa and Nolan, Arkfall does not so much present an existential risk but a financial opportunity for making profit by scavenging for valuable commodities (“Pilot”). The series introduces a similar positive coding in how it represents the terraformed ecosystems. While Rafe McCawley mourns the loss of the “old world,” terraforming has left behind gulanite which he can exploit for enormous financial gain (“Pilot,” “In the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”). Therefore, risks and riskscapes become floating signifiers instead of neutral referents as they can take on ­co-existing meanings as an existential threat and a potential financial reward.22

164 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio This also allows for a positive rethinking of social spaces in utopian ways. As Chris Pak highlights, terraforming in SF “allows us to examine and evaluate our historical relationship to our home planet and to postulate alternatives to current practices” (7). In Defiance, the risks emerging from the terraformed environment hold the potential to change characters’ attitudes which they held before the catastrophe. As Beck notes, global risk compels a recognition of “the irreversible non-excludability of those who are culturally different” (World at Risk 56). Joshua and Irisa Nolan’s recognition that Earth “belongs to everyone” (“Pilot”) unhinges contemporary modes of thinking about riskscapes within a nationalist frame (Beck, World at Risk 11) as political borders and national institutions have become obsolete. The riskscapes of Defiance open up possibilities for new forms of utopian social organization and equality.23 The perception and constant presence of risk(scapes) functions as a catalyst for changing social spaces rather than following a SF frontier rationale which often locates utopian possibilities in colonizing new spaces/planets (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 36–59; Katerberg 6–7). While risks in Defiance are perceived in various ways, their effects create new risk positions which depend on the characters’ positioning within the ­post-apocalyptic world. Beck notes that risks create an “enforced community” as global risks affect everybody (World at Risk 56). He highlights the creation of “social risk positions” (Beck, Risk Society 23, italics in original) as certain political/social actors maximize risks for others while minimizing them for themselves (23). Defiance instead emphasizes the role of spatial positioning. For instance, the risk of death from razor rain is low within Defiance—the inhabitants can seek shelter in buildings—whereas it is very high for the Spirit Riders who live in the open wasteland (“Goodbye Blue Sky”).24 As such, the interplay between topography and the characters’ spatial position determine how prone inhabitants are to the catastrophic effects of risks. By rethinking the social risk positions of the world risk society as spatial risk positions in a ­post-apocalyptic world, the series mirrors contemporary climate change riskscapes in which people in certain areas are more prone to catastrophe than others (­Müller-Mahn and Everts 24, 28–34; Hengeveld 145–146).

Responding to Riskscapes in a World of (­Post-Apocalyptic) Uncertainty: Risk Management in Defiance While different coexisting perspectives and uncertainty change the role of risks in the series, they also fundamentally change methods of managing risks in a ­p ost-apocalyptic world. Risk management



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refers to processes of understanding, assessing and responding to risks by both individuals and groups (institutions, governments) which aim to reduce the catastrophic impact of risks on the populace (Renn and Klinke 1). SF frontier fiction often emphasizes processes of individual and communal ­risk-taking (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 13; Katerberg 6–7). In contrast, Defiance shifts the focus from ­risk-taking to risk management. Defiance emphasizes local forms of risk management. The word risk society hinges on contemplating risk as a global phenomenon which can only be responded to by international cosmopolitanism (Beck, World at Risk 61–62). Instead, Defiance entails a reversal to local risk management. The ­post-apocalyptic transformation of Earth has created a new political landscape, including independent cities (e.g., Defiance) but also the Earth Republic (“Pilot”). Risk management in Defiance is deemed to be a local issue—especially considering the strained relations to the Earth Republic which makes communal risk management impossible (“Pilot,” “The Serpent’s Egg,” “Past Is Prologue,” “Everything Is Broken”). This corresponds to the increased localism in recent ­post-apocalyptic SF frontier fiction (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 4, Katerberg 6). Nevertheless, risk management in Defiance is not represented as an individualist enterprise but as a complex endeavor which includes both individuals and political communal attempts at managing risks. This allows for critically reflecting not only on the role of risk management in SF frontier fiction but also on current risk management policies in the United States. The representation of risk management in Defiance interrogates the perspectival relationality of risk and how perceptions of risks shape perceptions of spaces and risk management. Risk management is conducted by a political council (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”) and independent advisors, e.g., lawkeeper Nolan (“Goodbye Blue Sky”), who assess and respond to risk differently according to how they perceive and evaluate risks. One important problem of risk governance is that risk creates “a situation of ambivalence in which different and sometimes divergent streams of thinking and interpretation about the same risk phenomena and their circumstances are apparent” (Renn and Klinke 5). The episode “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” serves as a paradigmatic example. In this episode, the “Irath flu” constitutes a risk to the population of Defiance. The members of the council assess this risk and an adequate political and spatial response differently, a diversification which interrogates the role of perception in risk management processes. Mayor Amanda Rosewater’s approach to managing the risk of infection follows an epidemiological form of reasoning. From this point

166 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio of view, diseases and management procedures are knowable and adequate responses are already tested from the experience of previous outbreaks (Wald 19). Amanda advocates for the typical governance mechanism of a quarantine (Wald 23). This measure is supposed to stop the disease by preventing contacts between human/Votan infected and the ­non-infected population of the city. Amanda’s perspective hinges on a traditional epidemiological approach to the relationship between the risk of infection and space (Albertini 452): The enclosed, bordered spaces of buildings signify security whereas outside spaces—in which species come in contact with each other—signify the risk of contagion. Other councilors—Rafe McCawley and Datak Tarr—approach the same risk from an ­a ffective-emotional perspective. This perspective employs “intuitive and experiential thinking, guided by emotional and affective processes” (Slovic xxxi). Their approach hinges on anxiety, tied to the racializing logic of what Wald calls an “archetypal stranger” (Wald 10). The archetypal stranger is perceived as a threat to the ongoing existence of society (10) and populations stigmatize racially othered groups as the cause of diseases (Wald 115, 144–156). In Defiance, Datak and Rafe tie the risk of infection to the Irathients who are framed as “plague carriers.” They call for putting the Irathients under quarantine. Their point of view links risk management to race as their version of a quarantine assumes that Defiance can be made safe by locking all Irathients into the mines, an enclosed and bordered space which is to contain the disease by imprisoning its purported carriers. In fact, their racialized assessment of the risk of infection works to create a ghetto space. As Wald points out, since the ­sixteenth-century city planners and politicians often employed the logic of contagion in order to segregate racial Others in ghettoes under the ruse of their purported unhealthiness and their “risk” to society (145–146). Risk management here becomes entangled with racist ideologies which fuel fear, contempt and hatred. As Beck notes “[r]isk divides, excludes, stigmatizes” (World at Risk 16) and the resulting risk management procedures in Defiance equally divide the population along racial lines. By presenting risk as a relational construct that is perceived, conceived, and acted on according to different approaches, Defiance destabilizes the ­present-day risk management view of space as an “objective anchor” (Renn and Klinke 3) for risk management decisions. While all characters in Defiance are affected by the infection, their understanding of risk determines their understanding of space, as expressed in the two versions of a quarantine. Defiance debunks space as a neutral referent as in the ­post-apocalyptic world of the series thinking about managing risks is always fused with thinking about managing space.25



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Risk management also acquires a reactive rather than anticipative/ preemptive character. Risk management by the council and individuals almost exclusively occurs after a risk has turned catastrophic: The management of the “Irath flu” only sets in after the outbreak has begun to spread (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”) and the management of the razor rain only sets in after the Spirit Riders and the Nolans have encountered its effects in the wasteland (“Goodbye Blue Sky”). Again, this indicates a crucial modification of Beck’s world risk society through post-apocalyptic speculation. Contemporary research contemplates risk management as an attempt to manage an uncertain future (Renn and Klinke 1; Beck, World at Risk 8). In contrast, Defiance utilizes ­post-apocalyptic speculation and “risk narratives of catastrophe” (Mayer 506) to relocate ­p ost-apocalyptic risk management within an immediate narrative present. It constructs risk management as a complex and contested practice in contrast to Beck’s utopian hope for a “cosmopolitan world domestic policy” which is ­non-local, ­post-racial, and cooperative (World at Risk 65).

Floating Riskscapes and Technological (Im)Possibilities The representation of riskscapes in both Terra Nova and Defiance reshapes frontier spaces through engaging with global risks. While Terra Nova rethinks riskscapes through extrapolating from climate change risks, Defiance changes the very nature of technological risk and risk management through ­post-apocalyptic imagination. In Defiance, risks become highly uncertain, blurring traditionally distinct types of risks. The series stages risk as a presentist structure of the ­p ost-apocalyptic world. This rethinking functions as a speculative intensification of the world risk society: Risks no longer need to be revealed or preemptively anticipated and managed. Instead, the series presents risks as individual and communal threats that have to be reacted to and managed ad hoc. This representation reshapes riskscapes as floating signifiers: Perceptions of risks and spaces become interactive and take on complex, conflicting meanings (e.g., two different conceptualizations of the riskscape of infection). The series therefore destabilizes traditional forms of risk management in SF frontier fiction and presents risk management itself as an uncertain practice. Defiance’s representation of terraformed riskscapes works as a cognitively estranged analogy for climate change risk scenarios: It presents the destructive fallout of terraforming as a problem, creates spatial risk positions, and challenges the reliance on hyper-rationalism and a belief in technological progress (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167–178). In

168 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio doing so, Defiance criticizes ­human-made processes of technologically altering Earth. While both Terra Nova and Defiance critique the use of technologies, they engage with different elements of the SF frontier myth: Terra Nova reflects critically on capitalist ­world-making, while Defiance interrogates technological ­world-making. As such, both series question not only specific aspects of the SF frontier (capitalism, technological progress) but also their problematic role in the world risk society of the ­t wenty-first century.

Fragmented Cityscapes and the Problems of American Dreaming Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 reshape SF frontier utopias and dystopias through a clash between utopian imagined and dystopian lived spaces but Defiance differs from the other two series which displace their ­neo-frontier spaces to a temporal “elsewhere.” As Tally explicates, the classic utopia takes two forms—“a spatially accessible other-place apart from the spaces in which we live” (Utopia in the Age of Globalization ix, italics in original) or “a temporal ­other-time, whether in the past or future” (ix, italics in original). Terra Nova colony and the Ark in The 100 both fit the “­other-time” version of utopia because they are located in the far past (Terra Nova) and far future (The 100). Defiance locates utopia/dystopia within a speculative ­other-space. The series ­re-conceptualizes utopia and dystopia as coexisting spaces as it interrogates the interplay between colonialism and utopianism by focusing on Defiance as a complex frontier city. Simultaneously, it challenges traditional utopian narratives through explicitly addressing the settler past of the United States. Defiance engages with specific colonial utopian narratives, e.g., of the American Dream and the alien invasion narrative. In contrast to Terra Nova and The 100 which utilize utopian/dystopian narratives to further narratives of escape (Terra Nova) or a return to an ­i magined-to-be utopian Earth (The 100), Defiance articulates narratives of critique which call utopianism itself into question.

Patchworking Utopia? The City of Defiance as a Utopian/Dystopian Place In Terra Nova and The 100 the same spaces (the colony, the camp) are simultaneously utopian and dystopian, depending on characters’ perceptions. In contrast, Defiance draws on urbanity to reimagine



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frontier spaces as historicized utopian/dystopian patchwork spaces. My use of the concept “patchwork” follows geographers Gordon MacLeod and Kevin Ward’s reading of contemporary cities as “an intensely uneven patchwork of utopian and dystopian spaces that are, to all intents and purposes, physically proximate but institutionally estranged” (MacLeod and Ward 154). As in Terra Nova, the construction of the city of Defiance is framed as the realization of “social dreaming” (Sargent 1) and as the outcome of a “desire for a better way of living” (Levitas 8). The history of the city is presented in terms of an ongoing utopian process. In a speech, Amanda ties the development of the city to the Pale Wars: As the fort burned down around them, members of the human and Votan armies laid down their weapons. Their various commanding officers ordered them to keep fighting, but those soldiers, those Defiant Few, refused. Instead, they banded together to rescue trapped civilians from the wreckage. The power of that one seminal event galvanized the eight races. […] Others refused to fight. 15 years ago today, armistice was declared and the Pale Wars ended [“Pilot”].

Amanda here constructs a teleological utopian narrative leading from war/destruction to peace/construction, not unlike utopian narratives after World War II which assumed that the end of war, fascism, and imperialism would lead to a better global future (Moylan 67). In a later speech, she frames Defiance as the realized utopian outcome of this narrative as “we live in a great place, a town where human and Votan races live together as equals.” The series here links social dreaming, history, and Defiance as a place. In contrast to the colony in Terra Nova which is coded by its inhabitants as breaking with 2149, Defiance is presented as a result and continuation of history. Defiance rejects the assumption that utopia is an atemporal “ideal society, state, or condition” (Tally, Utopia in the Age of Globalization viii). The city embodies what Philip Wegner calls utopia’s “potential for diachrony or historical becoming” (18): Defiance is at once the product of the Pale Wars but also a place which is still ongoing in its utopian efforts and not the perfect end product of it (“We strive for the best, but sometimes we fall short”). Defiance therefore breaks with traditional utopian SF narratives in which frontiers often signify a complete erasure of problems of the past (Katerberg 5). This ongoing historicity of Defiance reconceptualizes the classic intentional community through an awareness of risks. An intentional community is the result of a group decision to live together, following a “share[d] project, values, goal, vision” (Sargent 15). In contrast, the community of Defiance is the result of both utopian intentionality and

170 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio risk: It is based on a shared vision of a better life in following the “Defiant Few.” At the same time, it depends on the foundational presence of risks. As Amanda highlights, “[r]aiders, epidemics, [and] floods” have glued the intentional community together. The intentional community is not only enabled by a common historical past but also by a local form of “enforced cosmopolitanism” (Beck, “Living in the World Risk Society” 338; Beck, World at Risk 61–62), i.e., by the necessity for an ongoing cooperation ­vis-à-vis the risks of the ­post-war world. In Defiance, risks and utopia constitute ­co-extensive elements in the process of ­place-making. This departs from traditional SF frontier fiction in which utopian ­place-making is born from a rejection of what is perceived by characters as a “failed society” (Katerberg 6). The series also establishes a dualism by contrasting Defiance with the Earth Republic (­E-Rep) as a “failed society.” This dualism resurrects traditional conceptions of the SF frontier myth. Utopia is defined by a “radical otherness” (Jameson xii) from the ­present-day society which is reflected on (Wegner xix; Tally ix; Gordin, Tilley, and Prakash 1). The “radical otherness” of Defiance is established through Amanda who sets up a binary contrast between the frontier city and the ­E-Rep. When Conner Lang tries to convince Amanda to work for the ­E-Rep, he argues that she could create a better and more equal society. Amanda responds by stating that this agenda has already been realized in Defiance (“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”). In contrast, she represents spaces controlled by the ­E -Rep as lived dystopias in her election campaign, coding them as places of scarcity where “people stand in line for a loaf of bread,” wages are low, and the government does not care about the wellbeing of its citizenry (“Past is Prologue”). Amanda here ties Defiance’s ­utopian-ness to its state as an independent frontier city which is not (mis)managed by the ­E-Rep. This recovers the logic of the frontier myth, in which a utopian form of life is also only possible in the West which is largely independent from the “civilized” East (Turner 216–225, Lehan 7). The ­neo-frontier spaces of Defiance hence replicate elements of the frontier myth by allocating utopia and dystopia to specific spaces (Defiance as utopian vs. ­E-Rep territories as dystopian). The series, however, shatters this imagined contrast through the representations of the lived social spaces of the city which are utopian and dystopian at the same time. One of the dangers of utopia is a tendency toward creating a place in which “equality and plenty are enjoyed by some groups at the expense of others” (Claeys, Dystopia 8). A utopian agenda of multiculturalism underlies Defiance but it is also marked by an exclusionist logic. For the Irathients, Defiance does not constitute a better place but a place of oppression, violence, and segregation as



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“the soil of Defiance is soaked with Irathient blood” (“The Devil in the Dark”). Defiance is built on violent expropriations (“The Devil in the Dark”) and killings (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” “The Devil in the Dark”). Moreover, the lived experience of Irathients in Defiance corresponds to an “external dystopia” (Claeys, Dystopia, 56, italics in original) in which “outsiders suffer the brunt of repression” (56). The Spirit Riders are excluded from society as humans resent their presence due to a ­deep-seated racism (“The Devil in the Dark”) which even leads to hunts of Irathients and their imprisonment during the “Irath flu” outbreak (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”). Even Amanda at one point adopts this exclusionist view: “Every human in town is afraid of dying. People are desperate. If you are Irathient, the best place to be is out of sight” (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive,” italics mine). These practices resemble those of totalitarian regimes, e.g., of the treatment of Jews during the NS regime (Arendt 3–10; Claeys Dystopia 177–212). From a U.S. American vantage point, the series references the white settlers’ taking of the land and segregation of Native Americans in reservations (Hixson viii, 4–7; Veracini, Settler Colonialism 27). Taking these historical parallels into account, Defiance can be read as an ambiguous social space in which imagined ways of multicultural living clash with dystopian exclusionist social practices as some species are not allowed to participate in the utopian project of the city. This inextricability of utopia/dystopia constitutes a structural element of the city. Similarly to Chicago in Terra Nova, Defiance extrapolates from contemporary urbanism in which utopian and dystopian places coexist within the city (MacLeod and Ward 154). Urban planning and imaginary has created an uneven patchwork, including utopian gated communities (159–160) and the peripheral “hyperghetto” (161) that is marked by “an extraordinary prevalence of physical danger and an acute sense of insecurity” (Wacquant qtd. in MacLeod and Ward 161). In Defiance, a dystopian “hyperghetto” is located in the Hollows, exemplified by Nehi Street (“A Well Respected Man”). Nehi Street is covered with old tents, the rusted carcasses of cars, trash, makeshift barrel fires, ­ever-present smoke/fog, and people in tattered clothing huddling together in the cold (“A Well Respected Man”). The ­mise-en-scène clearly draws on staple dystopian imagery of decay, ruin and human “ant heaps” in slums (Claeys Dystopia, 3–4). Nehi Street is marked by “an extraordinary prevalence of physical danger and an acute sense of insecurity”: A boy can only make a living by stealing, and Kenya Rosewater is abducted by a criminal syndicate. Nehi Street is cluttered with ­non-functional objects which aligns with the aesthetic of ruins as part of the ­post-apocalyptic genre (Machat 72–80). Not unlike ruins, Nehi

172 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Street signifies destruction and disorder: It is a dystopian “Otherspace” which clashes with the open, ­well-lit, and orderly “utopian” Market Street which is a place of relaxation and consumerism. This fracturing demonstrates that the coding of districts and streets as utopian or dystopian is based not only on physical characteristics but on class fissures. While a utopian way of life is accessible to middle and ­upper-class citizens irrespective of their species, the unemployed and low wage workers live dystopian lives in the Hollows. In contrast to SF frontier fiction, Defiance departs from SF frontier spaces which are mostly presented as either utopian (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 5) or as dystopian “dark frontiers” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171–176; Katerberg 213–214). Instead, the city is fragmented into a patchwork of utopian and dystopian spaces with groups located in specific spaces depending on their culture, species, and class.

­Neo-Frontier Possibilities in the City: Critical Narratives, Utopian Change and the (SF) Frontier Myth Defiance’s fracturing of the city into utopian and dystopian spaces seems to align with Terra Nova and The 100 but Defiance does not employ a narrative of escape (Terra Nova) or narrative of return (The 100). Instead, it draws on the narrative of the American Dream and the alien invasion narrative in order to interrogate SF frontier utopianism. The American Dream originated in the seventeenth century and therefore emerged and operated within the boundaries of the frontier myth (Cullen 61). In the context of immigration, it gradually developed into a ­w ide-spread myth: In time, the myth of the American Dream shifted from the Puritan dogma of “hard work” to an individualist maxim for rising on the social and economic ladder (Cullen 5, 61). The alien invasion narrative is a ­long-standing element of SF which has regained traction after 9/11, with alien invasions becoming a means for speculatively engaging with terrorists as racialized Others (Higgins 46–48). In Defiance, both narratives become a means for challenging SF frontier ideologies, particularly of the interplay between utopianism, colonialism, and capitalism. The fracturing of Defiance into utopian and dystopian spaces seems to be a fixed state but personal narratives in the series enable what Moylan calls “a utopian horizon” (xiii) for individual characters. For instance, the ­l ife-history of Datak Tarr destabilizes the fixity of these dystopian spaces through a narrative of social, political, and economic mobility. Datak rises from a poor man on his home planet to an aspiring



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criminal in the slums of Defiance who eventually becomes the wealthy “godfather” of the criminal underworld of the city. The series stages Datak’s life as a process of dreaming for a better life. Datak and his wife Stahma construct Datak’s life in terms of one of the predominant versions of the American Dream—“the Dream of Upward Mobility” (60).26 This dream revolves around four goals—acquiring financial wealth, achieving economic ­self-sufficiency, obtaining a “secure and esteemed profession” (61), and having the “leisure to pursue a career in politics” (61). All of these goals are reflected in how Datak and Stahma frame Datak’s life (“Pilot,” “Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” “A Well Respected Man”). Stahma describes her husband to Christie by reiterating her and Datak’s past (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”): STAHMA:  He was a scruffy young nobody, beautiful, dangerous, a wicked smile. He’d won passage to Earth as payment for a gambling debt. […] Datak was a man I knew loved me beyond scope of reason. He was a survivor, a man who would stop at nothing to keep us both safe.

Stahma’s construction of Datak’s past plays on the already established knowledge about Datak as a wealthy “businessman” who sponsors the Armistice Day celebrations (“Pilot”). She contrasts this present image of Datak with his past as a ­low-caste “scruffy young nobody” who had to earn the money to come to Earth by gambling. The narrative Stahma constructs here resonates with the mantra of the American Dream of Upward Mobility, namely that “anything is possible, if you want it badly enough” (Cullen 5), expressed in Stahma’s claim that Datak “would stop at nothing” to achieve his goals (becoming a wealthy, highly respected “businessman” and marrying Stahma). Stahma’s narrative modifies the American Dream of Upward Mobility and the social dreaming it involves: As Cullen elaborates, all variants of the American Dream depend on individualism while also providing a “shared ground for a long time, binding together people who may have otherwise little in common and may be even hostile to one another” (189). What Cullen indicates here is that individual dreaming is connected to social dreaming—achieving one’s goals does not only benefit the individual but society as a whole. This becomes problematic here. Datak’s realization of his dream is predicated on the use of violence against others, based on dystopian methods of manipulation also used by totalitarian political parties (Claeys, Dystopia 113). Those parties employ a “government of fear [which] may rest on intimidation by rumour and hearsay as much as actual violence” (126). Datak is ready to kill (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” “If I Ever Leave

174 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio This World Alive,” “Everything Is Broken”), he uses intimidation and the threat of violence to police others (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” “A Well Respected Man”) and manipulates public opinion against competitors (“Past is Prologue”). His egoistic pursuit of the American Dream of Upward Mobility and the dystopian methods he uses crucially disrupt the conflation of individual and social dreaming as mutually ­co-extensive in the American Dream (a stance which also underlies the frontier myth). Instead, Defiance presents both ways of dreaming as conflicting with each other. Datak’s life history and his achievement of the Dream of Upward Mobility critique the utopianism inherent in the (SF) frontier myth, especially the assumption of a democratic identity created by the frontier. The frontier myth assumes that the selfishness which emerges at the frontier does not foster antisocial individualism but a utopian sense of community and democracy (Turner 215–216, 223–224; Lehan 7). Datak’s rise demonstrates that he possesses many traits of the (popular cultural) frontier hero such as coarseness, strength, ingenuity, selfreliance (Turner 226–227, Den Uyl 31) but his individualism does not benefit the community but exploits it for personal gains (by using other people to obtain wealth, standing, and a political office). Therefore, Datak’s life history calls attention to the pitfalls of both utopian visions of the SF frontier and the American Dream as it lays bare the dystopian realities which are inherently also part of the realization of these visions. Datak’s ruthless pursuit can simultaneously be read as a reflection on the problematic interplay between ideologies of capitalism and “social dreaming” which define SF frontier spaces. As Louis Althusser shows, capitalism preaches the exploitation of others for the gain of profit and depends on lived practices of “subtle everyday domination” (93). Capitalist thinking validates the subjection and instrumentalization of certain people by others and the pursuit of “privatopias” (MacLeod and Ward 159). Datak’s ruthless pursuit of power indicates how capitalism rather than utopianism structures Defiance. The reliance on capitalist modes of thinking—held by a large part of the citizenry of Defiance—constitutes an ­e ver-present challenge to the realization of a better and equal multicultural society. Defiance is not so much the realization of “social dreaming” but a place in which different ­perceived-as-utopian visions coexist and struggle with each other for dominance. While Datak’s case proves that personal utopian visions can be realized, his methods depend on exploitation/coercion which clash with the vision of a utopian community. It is true that SF frontier fiction also has become more critical of capitalism since the 1960s



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and 1970s (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171, Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 55–58) but Defiance does not resort to the standard imagery of a single dystopian capitalist space (as is the case in Terra Nova). Instead, the series examines how utopian frontier spaces are produced, challenged, and undermined within an urban contact zone which negotiates individualism, capitalism, and social dreaming. Lastly, Datak’s life narrative can also be read as a critical reflection on the interconnections between colonialism, utopianism, and place-making. The Puritan settlers in the seventeenth century strove to establish a utopian ­c ounter-site to the Church of England in the “New World” (Cullen 18). The Votans also colonize Earth with the utopian agenda of settling in order to “start over” after their home planets have become uninhabitable. Yet, both the general narrative of the series and Datak’s personal history reconfigure the historical relationship between utopianism and colonialism in America through an alien invasion narrative that disconnects colonial endeavors from the successful realization of utopian dreams. The Votans cannot settle on “free land” but need to wage a violent war. Their colonization relies on mass destruction, murder, and terraforming in order to realize their dream. In contrast to frontier mythology, the presence of Earth’s natives is not disavowed but accepted as an obstacle which needs to be overcome. In a sense, this mirrors the European settler/Native American relationship in which the perceived Other had to preferably be exterminated (Cullen 12–13, Hixson 3–4). The narrative twist of the series here goes beyond a mere repetition of U.S. settler history: This time, Americans are in the way of colonial utopian dreams of the Votans, they are the colonized who are dragged into a dystopian war for survival instead of the Native Americans. In addition, the series does not stage the outcome of the Pale Wars as a success for the Votans: In U.S. history, the settlers eventually realized their utopian dream at the expense of Native Americans who were exterminated or restricted to reservations. In Defiance, both the Votans and humanity have lost the war and now have to cooperate in order to survive in a dystopian world. The Nolans’ observation that “[t]his world has no natives” (“Pilot”) highlights a central paradox: Earth is no longer native and familiar to its original inhabitants due to terraforming, but it is neither native to the Votans. It is literally not native to them, as they originate from elsewhere, but Earth also does not become a utopian terraformed copy of their homes (“Pilot,” “Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”). In effect, this narrative and Datak’s utopian dream and the methods he uses to achieve it, question the problematic positive relationship between colonialism and utopianism which

176 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio still underlies SF frontier fiction, e.g., in contemporary “left coast utopias” (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future, 117–125): They highlight the tensions between utopian imagined spaces, attempts to realize these spaces, and fractured dystopian outcomes.

Utopias/Dystopias of Coexistence In Terra Nova, the colony is imagined as a utopian “starting over” while it employs similar dystopian methods of ­place-making as in 2149. Defiance instead ­re-conceptualizes the frontier utopia through engaging with the ongoing historicity of utopia: The city of Defiance constitutes an entity based on a history of war and the wish to build an intentional community but also of living with the risks of the postapocalyptic world. Despite this difference, Defiance—not unlike Terra Nova—reshapes the SF frontier utopia through a clash between imagined and lived spaces. On the one hand, Defiance draws on the (SF) frontier myth: It stages the independence of the city as a counterforce to the dystopian “civilized” Earth Republic and envisions a democratic multiculturalism shared by all inhabitants. On the other hand, the representation of lived spaces undercuts frontier ideologies: Narratives, character perceptions and a fragmentation of the city (dystopian slums vs. spaces of utopian consumption/leisure) disintegrate the vision of a communal frontier utopia. In contrast to the homogenous utopia of Terra Nova, Defiance presents the city as a fractured construct in which access to utopia is limited by cultural, spatial, and racial position. In particular, the series breaks with the SF frontier myth and utopian ideologies through formal and narrative means. Unlike Terra Nova, Defiance does not work to present utopia/dystopia as temporal stages. Instead, the series juxtaposes slum imagery and a ruin aesthetic with utopian streets of leisure and consumerism, highlighting the spatial ­co-presence of utopia and dystopia in the city. Therefore, Terra Nova and Defiance seize on different aspects of utopia/dystopia—its temporal vs. its spatial dimension—in order to replace the dualism of frontier utopias and “dark frontiers” in SF frontier fiction (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 5; Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171–176; Katerberg 213–214) with a both/and approach. Defiance conceptualizes utopia and dystopia not as a binary system but as mutually inextricable components of ­neo-frontier spaces. The series interrogates the interplay between social dreaming, colonialism, and the SF frontier myth by reflecting on the American Dream and the alien invasion narrative. In its representation of the ­l ife-history of Datak, it challenges the logic of the American Dream within the



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context of the (SF) frontier myth: Frontier individualism clashes with social dreaming rather than promoting it and the pursuit of the American Dream is tied to capitalist ideologies which further exploitation rather than an improvement of society. The alien invasion narrative in Defiance unhinges positive associations between utopianism and colonialism: The Votan dream of colonizing Earth fails and the terraformed Earth is a challenge for all species rather than the realization of a utopian blueprint. In Terra Nova, narratives interrogate the mythical construction of frontier spaces through a critical engagement with heroism and violence. In Defiance, narratives instead critique U.S. settler history and destabilize the frontier myth through highlighting its internal contradictoriness as individualism and social dreaming are in conflict rather than complementing each other.

5 On the Brink Making New Spaces and Collapsing Boundaries in The 100 The 100 was created by Jason Rothenberg as a television series adaptation of a ­young-adult novel series of the same name by Kass Morgan. The series was broadcast on The CW from 2014 to 2020. The 100 focuses on a ­p ost-apocalyptic future in which Earth has become uninhabitable due to a nuclear catastrophe which forced humanity to build the Ark, a space station in orbit. Set in 2149, the series charts the attempt of 100 juvenile prisoners to recolonize Earth after 97 years of isolation in space. The colonists not only struggle to survive in an unfamiliar and dangerous environment but also have to come terms with each other and the Grounders—communities of survivors of the nuclear holocaust who have adopted a tribal way of life on Earth. The 100 has only recently received academic attention (2016–present). Despite its colonial ­set-up, scholarship has only paid little attention to the construction of spaces or the SF frontier myth in the series: Recent articles mostly discuss the series from a gender studies perspective—reaching from an analysis of gender identities and agency (Howe, “Survival of the Fittest” 166–182; Lavigne 145–152) to representations of LGBTQ relationships (McNutt; Lavigne 151, Howe, “Survival of the Fittest” 172–175). One notable exception is an article by Ceren Mert and Amanda Firestone which focuses on Othering and its impact on utopian/dystopian spaces in the series (155–163). Carlen Lavigne also at least briefly touches upon the question of race and Othering between the 100 and tribes on Earth (142–145, 149–151). The 100 differs from Terra Nova and Defiance as it juxtaposes two ­neo-frontier spaces which are separate but connected to each other— the Ark and Earth (the ­s o-called “Ground”). While Terra Nova and Defiance focus on ­post-apocalyptic Earths, The 100 reintroduces the element of a settler colony in outer space but also participates in a critical 178



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re–Earthing: Instead of presenting outer space as a “Final Frontier” to conquer and colonize, the Ark is defined by the desire to return and recolonize Earth.

The Ark and the Settler Camp as Spaces of Permanence and Temporariness In contrast to Terra Nova and Defiance which focus on a colony and a frontier city on Earth, The 100 contrasts a settler colony in outer space and a settler camp in former Virginia. This allows for the series to construct ­post-apocalyptic spaces on Earth but also to engage with the SF frontier in outer space. The 100 executes a reversal of direction in contrast to the SF frontier: Outer space is no longer the destination but a temporary ­stop-over with ­neo-frontier spaces ­re-located to Earth.1 The 100 also marks a special case because it departs from Terra Nova and Defiance. The construction of spaces in Terra Nova and Defiance moves beyond mythical frontier binaries (Self/Other, inside/outside, etc.) by breaking down and/or rethinking social and physical borders. The Ark and the camp instead occupy an ­i n-between position: The ­neo-frontier spaces of the series challenge and rework some elements of the SF frontier myth while conserving others.

A Settler Colony in Orbit? The High Frontier Spaces of the Ark The 100 introduces the Ark as a unique ­neo-frontier space. The 100’s focus on the Ark engages with the SF notion of a technological frontier in outer space (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167) but the Ark does not merely continue the tradition of a SF frontier but works with and against the concept of the “High Frontier.” The “High Frontier” was introduced by physicist Gerard K. O’Neill in the 1970s. He used the term to describe a vision of “islands in space” (61), ­self-sustaining space stations which would allow humanity to find new living space and to escape from environmental problems and overpopulation (19). As Matthew Wilhelm Kapell highlights, O’Neill’s High Frontier resurrects the mythical conception of “free land” and recasts the frontier as a technological utopia (Exploring the Next Frontier 175–176). Nevertheless, the concept becomes useful for reading the Ark which extrapolates from O’Neill’s vision but at the same time deviates from both the High Frontier and the SF frontier. The Ark cannot be read as a typical SF technological frontier. The

180 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio 100 envisions the Ark not as a space of American technological progress but as a communal ­neo-frontier space based on international cooperation. The Ark extrapolates from the International Space Station (ISS). The design of the ISS consists of a set of “pressurized modules docked to a huge ­g irder-like structure” (Catchpole 1). The modules are of international origin and serve different functions which combine into a technological system (2–3). The establishing long shots of the Ark present a ­g irder-like structure to which 12 space stations are docked (“Pilot,” “Unity Day”). The modules are integrated in a complex technological system and serve different functions: Hydra Station is concerned with water supply, Mecha Station with maintenance, Power Station with generating electrical power, Factory Station with manufacturing, Farm Station with producing food, and Prison Station with segregating juvenile criminals from the general population (“Pilot,” “We Are Grounders, Part 2”). The Ark is the product of a cosmopolitan cooperation of different nations and its population is multicultural. While 16 partner countries are involved in the maintenance of the ISS (Catchpole 11), the Ark consists of 12 stations by different nations which were united after the nuclear holocaust on Earth: Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Uganda, Brazil, China, India, Russia, the United States, and Venezuela (“Unity Day”). Therefore, the representation of the Ark counters a SF frontier belief in innovation rooted in U.S. American exceptionalism (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167). Instead of signifying the United States’ role as a “vanguard of civilization’s progress” (170), the Ark constitutes a logical extrapolation from existing technological designs rather than a ­g round-breaking unprecedented novum. The Ark is presented as the result of multinational cooperation, not for the sake of promoting technological progress but for enabling the survival of humanity. The 100 draws on traditions of representing space stations in SF in terms of design but it rejects the standard function of space stations as outposts which enable the colonization of outer space. The Ark’s design fuses several elements of O’Neill’s vision which have become widely adapted in SF frontier fiction. O’Neill’s “new frontier in space” (18)— resonating with both Kennedy’s “New Frontier” and Star Trek’s “Final Frontier”—was based on extrapolating from technologies and envisioning space colonies which he believed could be constructed by the 1990s to 2000s (17). Although O’Neill’s design was never (fully) implemented, his vision had a significant impact on SF: Movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Interstellar (2014), William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984), Allen Steele’s “Near Space” novel series (1989–90), Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 (2012), and the television series Star Trek: Deep



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Space Nine (1993–1999) and Babylon 5 (1994–1998) extrapolated from O’Neill’s vision (Baxter 15–30). Similarly to O’Neill’s habitats, the Ark’s stations combine “basic sphere, cylinder or ring shapes” (O’Neill 14), they utilize rotating elements to generate gravity (47–48), and paraboloidal mirrors collect solar energy (63). The Ark presents both a continuation of the staple of the space station in SF frontier fiction but also significantly breaks with it: While its design resembles earlier SF space stations, the Ark differs in its purpose as a temporary home rather than as an outpost which propels the colonization of other planets. In a contrast to Terra Nova colony and Defiance, the Ark does not present a traditional settler colonial space. Settler colonies are defined by an “animus manendi,” the intention to permanently inhabit a newly claimed space (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 53). Such constructions are common in SF television—for instance, both the space stations in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 are permanent settler outposts on the “Final Frontier.” In contrast, the Ark fuses a settler colonial residence of the inhabitants on the station with plans for a return to Earth once the nuclear fallout has dissipated. When critical system failures necessitate a premature return, Chancellor Theolonious Jaha emphasizes the ­i n-between state of the Ark’s inhabitants as both residents and future colonists (“Earth Skills”): We didn’t ask for this. Ours was to be a transitional generation … ensuring that three generations from now mankind could go home. But everything has changed, and we will either be the generation that sees the human race return to Earth, or upon whose watch it finally ends.

Jaha’s phrasing not only draws attention to the temporariness of settlement on the Ark (“transitional generation”) but also codes the Ark in relation to humanity’s former “home,” Earth, which it is “destined” to return to. Jaha’s coding is inflected by a modified form of Manifest Destiny. While Manifest Destiny revolves around the ­God-given right to settle land, Lehan notes that the Puritans tied their colonial project to “a special mission of a higher way of life” (22) in the New World, i.e., creating an alternative society than the one they left behind (22–23). Jaha’s comment similarly combines a right to Earth with a Manifest Destiny— the belief that it will allow humanity to survive and build a new society whereas the Ark is equated with the extinction of human “civilization” on the High Frontier. Jaha’s speech indicates that the Ark is paradoxically shaped by an imagined terracentrism. Although the inhabitants are expected to live on the Ark for their entire lives, their mindset is geared toward the return to Earth by future generations. As Veracini notes, settler

182 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio communities usually derive their identities from their displacement to a new locale and their difference from the place they have left behind (53). In contrast, the Ark citizens derive their identities not from the move away from Earth but from their imaginative future return to it: For Clarke Griffin, Earth is a desirable “dream” in contrast to having to live on the Ark (“Pilot”). As Ceren Mert and Amanda Firestone argue, Clarke’s view is representative of the population of the Ark as citizens “share a broadly similar conceptual map as a result of having a common culture and language, a way of making meaning [of Earth] within this community” (155). In fact, politics, educational systems, and even religion—important factors for shaping a communal identity—on the Ark all embrace this terracentrist mindset: Chancellor Jaha contemplates his leadership position as managing the population under the mandate to prepare them for a return to Earth (“Earth Skills,” “Unity Day”) and the educational system includes mandatory classes on “Earth Skills” such as navigating in the wilderness and tracking (“Earth Skills”). The series even presents Earth as a religious site of worship on the Ark: This is exemplified by the ritual act of tending the Eden Tree, 2 and church services in which religious leader Vera Kane stages Earth as a substitute heaven (“Murphy’s Law”). Even visions of the afterlife adopt this view as the “Traveler’s Blessing” replaces heaven with Earth: “In peace, may you leave this shore. In love, may you find the next. Safe passage on your travels until our final journey to the Ground. May we meet again” (“Unity Day,” “We Are Grounders, Part 2”). All of these practices regulate how the Ark and Earth are perceived and conceived by the citizens of the Ark. The series couples terracentrism with a representation of Earth as a mythical destination which takes the place of the frontier West as a “realm of romantic destiny” in popular culture (Lehan 54). The series rejects the SF tradition of a technological frontier in outer space but simultaneously embraces the idea of Manifest Destiny: Through its emphasis on terracentrism, the series aligns with mythical ideas of leaving behind “civilization” (the Ark) in order to colonize the wilderness (Earth). Nevertheless, the series also challenges this vision of Earth as a frontier heaven by introducing points of view which counter thinking about Earth in terms of what Massey calls a “single universal” (55). ­Vice-Chancellor Kane offers a ­counter-hegemonic view: His thinking is marked by pragmatism, scientific calculations, and an Arkcentrism. For him, a return to Earth is “wishful thinking” and he opposes focusing all efforts on returning to the Ground (“Pilot”). He advocates for making drastic decisions in order to ensure the future survival of humanity on the Ark: He proposes a “culling” of 320 people to stretch the oxygen



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supply until the CO₂ scrubbers can be repaired (“Earth Skills”). His view of the Ark as the only place for survival even (temporarily) gains hegemonic status by popular consent in “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” as 420 citizens volunteer for the culling in order to ensure their families’ survival. The Ark therefore does not present a homogeneous construct but a space in which conflicting understandings about the Ark and Earth are constantly renegotiated and are always open for reinterpretation. Even the Ark is not as unified as the hegemonic system of politics, education, and religion seems to suggest. Although settlers often base their communal identity on shared values which unify them into a settler collective (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 21, Elkins and Pedersen 4), settler colonies do not possess a homogenous population economy. Social spaces are negotiated within a settler continuum (Elkins and Pedersen 5): Different groups struggle with each other, e.g., an imperial metropole, a local settler collective, indigenous populations, and an ­administrative-political elite (Elkins and Pedersen 4). The Ark presents a less complex settler continuum than the species that live in the city in Defiance. In the case of the Ark, an imperial metropole and an indigenous population are absent. Still, the series sets up a clash between a local settler collective (the working classes) and an ­administrative-political elite (the council). In contrast to Terra Nova and Defiance, The 100 stages Othering not as a method for establishing a difference between settlers and an external Other on the Ark. Instead, The 100 fractures the settler collective into two groups. Both groups construct the other group along a colonial us/them binary (Hall “The Spectacle of the ‘Other’” 229; Kers­ lake 8). This becomes clear in a conversation between Chancellor Jaha and former chancellor Diana Sydney who represents the working class (“Contents Under Pressure”): DIANA:  My people are angry and confused. […] The belief that your administration let people die when there was another way has taken root. JAHA:  I don’t suppose you’ve tried to convince them otherwise. […] DIANA:  If you don’t get in front of these rumors, things are going to get ugly, fast. That’s what I would do in your position. […] It’s true, we’ve had our differences but I’m here as an ally. […] The Ark needs unity now more than ever.

The conversation not only highlights fissures within the social fabric of the Ark community (the workers vs. the council) but plays on the “power in representation; [the] power to mark, assign, or classify” (Hall, “The Spectacle of the ‘Other’” 259, italics in original). Jaha and Sydney

184 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio draw on us/them distinctions. Gradually, the power positions shift from Jaha to Sydney as she plays on the ­l ayered-ness of the Other which is “identifiably different” (Kerslake 19) while also being a “projected reflection of ourselves” (16). As Hall points out, difference is both positive and negative—it can become the site for a formation of the Self but can also turn destructive toward the Other, resulting in “splitting, hostility and aggression” (“The Spectacle of the ‘Other’” 238). Sydney plays on these layers of difference: She sets herself apart from the working class who reject the council’s political ­decision-making. Simultaneously, she frames herself not as part of the workers’ community but as an “ally” who wishes to counsel Jaha due to their purported sameness (both of them are/were Chancellors). When this appeal does not come to fruition, she appropriates Jaha’s belief that the Ark constitutes a homogeneous community held together in “unity” rather than fractured groups. Difference is simultaneously upheld and disavowed. This rhetorical maneuver indicates the complex manner in which The 100 participates in Othering but also how the series destabilizes distinctions between Self and Other as the poles of sameness/difference oscillate in line with political power struggles on the Ark. While differences are both admitted and denied, Sydney and the working class utilize Othering for legitimizing radical violent actions against the council. Settlers often relied on a belief in “righteous violence” (Hixson x) which was considered to be appropriate for bringing indigenous populations “in line” with the settler project (Hixson vii– ix; Veracini, Settler Colonialism 35). In The 100, Sydney and the workers justify their violence against the Council as righteous, validated by what they perceive as false political decisions. The workers attack their perceived Other, first by detonating a bomb during the Unity Day celebration and then by seizing the dropship and launching it (“Unity Day”). In contrast to Terra Nova and Defiance, The 100 frames encounters with the Other as inevitably violent and destructive: Contact between the groups does neither open up possibilities for revised perceptions of the Other (as is the case in Terra Nova) nor a recognition of “interwoven threads” (as is the case in Defiance). The 100 presents social borders as insurmountable, epitomized by the breaking apart of the settler community in “Unity Day”: In the end, the working classes and Sydney are separated from Jaha and council supporters by a transparent door which creates a physical boundary. The door becomes a metaphorical frontier—a “meeting point between savagery and civilization” (Turner 200): The workers attempt to break away from “civilization” and attempt to force the door closed while Jaha’s team attempts to force it open to prevent a premature launch which would cripple the Ark. The



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series here presents Othering as a literally destructive process as the conflict physically breaks apart the Ark. Ultimately, the Ark disallows for the creation of a ­neo-frontier Thirdspace in which cultural differences could be renegotiated and new intercultural spaces could come into being (Bhaba 5, 37–38).

“We Are Grounders”: The Settler Camp and Spaces of the Other on Earth Apart from the Ark, The 100 engages with a second type of settler space in the form of a settler camp rather than a colony (Terra Nova) or frontier city (Defiance). While colonies and frontier cities constitute voluntary constructs, the camp mostly has been read as a negative, often involuntary, and coercive spatial formation (Picker and Pasquetti 681). In postcolonial, settler colonial, biopolitical, and sociological research, camps denote negative sites of segregation (Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks 2), sexual violence (Edmonds 132–138), and/or imprisonment and forced ­re-education (Hixson 113; Agamben 166–180). In The 100, the camp on Earth constitutes a space of positive negativity; i.e., the 100 construct it as an ­a nti-space set against both the Ark and against Grounder tribes. Giorgio Agamben notes that camps can become sites where a state of exception becomes the norm; i.e., camp inhabitants stand outside the official legal system and are reduced to a state of bare life (166–180). Accordingly, sociologists Giovanni Picker and Silvia Pasquetti define camps as “durable ­socio-spatial formations that displace and confine undesirable populations, suspending them in a distinct spatial, legal and temporal condition” (681). In The 100, the camp is similarly the result of a displacement of “undesirable populations” as the teenagers are “unwilling pioneers on this brave new world” (Mert and Firestone 158). Chancellor Jaha tells the 100: “We have no idea what is waiting for you down there. If the odds of survival were better, we would’ve sent others. Frankly, we’re sending you because your crimes have made you expendable” (“Pilot”). Jaha’s comment inverts the position of settler colonizer and colonized. Whereas traditionally settlers reduced native populations to a state of bare life, in this case it is the involuntary settlers that are reduced to a state of bare life; i.e., they lack any political rights and possibilities for agency (Agamben 171). Nevertheless, the 100 begin to assert their own communal agency by constructing a base camp after landing. Camps are marked by a state of “permanent temporariness” (Picker and Pasquetti 683), they oscillate “between the temporary and the permanent” (Hailey 4, italics added). While camps are often established as temporary spatial arrangements

186 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio during a crisis (e.g., refugee camps), they can become permanent arrangements which endure for a long time (Hailey 4; Picker and Pasquetti 683). This ­i n-between-ness and ­non-fixity also pervades the camp of the 100. In contrast to a striated settler colony, it is both transitory and lasting: The camp is made from ­m ake-shift materials—the dropship is retooled as a preliminary sickbay, the walls are constructed from wood and scrap metal, and the tents are refunctioned parachutes taken from the dropship. The temporariness of the camp is repeatedly emphasized by Clarke: She contrasts the camp with Mount Weather, an emergency facility, which would provide permanent shelter, food, and could function as a home to the 100 (“Pilot”) and rejects the idea of defending it against the Grounders (“We Are Grounders, Part 1”). In contrast, Bellamy and his followers conceive of the camp as a permanent home which must be defended against “invasion.” He justifies this point of view by pointing out that [t]his is our home now. We built this from nothing with our bare hands! Our dead are buried behind that wall in this ground! […] The Grounders think they can take that away. They think that because we came from the sky, we don’t belong here. […] We are on the ground now, and that means we are Grounders! [“We Are Grounders, Part 1”]

Bellamy here clearly draws on settler colonial perceptions based on the possession of the “land” and frontier thinking.3 He utilizes the notion of a “new man” in U.S. settler exceptionalism (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 22) and constructs the 100 as a group of ­self-reliant, inventive, strong individuals who have “built this [camp] from nothing with our bare hands,” in line with the frontier hero in popular culture (Den Uyl 30). Bellamy articulates an animus manendi, a belief that assumes settlers have a sovereign right to the land based on their decision to settle down in a particular place (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 53). He emphasizes that the 100’s journey to Earth has turned them into “Grounders” who have a right to “[o]ur ground.” Bellamy also codes the camp as a permanent place to live in. As Mar and Edmonds point out, the major endeavor for settlers consisted of creating “new places of belonging out of the land they appropriated” (4). Bellamy employs a similar way of thinking: Whereas Clarke considers the inadequacies of the camp, Bellamy represents it as a place, i.e., a site of emotional attachment. Places constitute “environments and settings [that] have been shaped and molded by human action and habitation” (Ryan, Foote, and Azaryahu 7); i.e., the act of inhabitation brings a place into being. Bellamy codes the camp as the 100’s home at threat from an external enemy. He also fashions a sense of belonging by appealing to communal memory



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(“[o]‌u r dead are buried behind that wall in this ground”) and communal achievement (the camp as a feat of which the 100 should be proud of). Therefore, the camp is not an uncontested, homogenous settler colonial space but is defined by “coexisting heterogeneity” (Massey 9): It is constantly constructed and ­re-constructed by various actors, ideologies, and positionalities (99). The camp is also constantly reshaped through narrative events and voluntary and involuntary forms of mobility. The camp oscillates between temporariness and permanence as it is always in process. This changeability counters notions of a fixed SF frontier space and also breaks with the image of the Ground as a stable permanent home held by the citizens of the Ark. The episodes “We Are Grounders, Part 1” and “We Are Grounders, Part 2” provide a paradigmatic example: In the former episode, Clarke convinces the 100 to abandon their camp and to migrate to the East. It seems as if the camp has lost its state of permanence as the 100 leave behind their temporary home. The situation, however, quickly shifts from temporariness to permanence again: Once the group is attacked in the forest, the 100 retreat back to their (purportedly) safe camp with the intention of defending it with their lives (“We Are Grounders, Part 2”). This not only indicates how quickly the poles of temporariness/permanence can shift but also draws attention to the significance of events. Camps often are “event spaces” (Hailey 3); i.e., they emerge as a response to events such as wars, natural catastrophes, and involuntary displacements and segregations (1). In The 100, the initial event that forces them to establish the camp is the involuntary displacement from the Ark but then another event—the attack by Grounders in the forest—compels them to return to the camp. The camp ultimately trumps voluntary mobility: In contrast to Terra Nova and Defiance, The 100 stages mobility not as a means for achieving freedom and an opportunity but as a danger to the group. This negative conceptualization refutes the mobility paradigm of the frontier myth which requires the constant movement of peoples. Although the return to the camp proves to be the right decision—the 100 manage to destroy the Grounder army—the season ends with an involuntary displacement of the 100 from their camp by the Mountain Men, a community that survived the nuclear holocaust inside a bunker inside Mount Weather. Temporariness, permanence, and both voluntary and involuntary mobility shape the camp and its relation to other spaces (the East, the forest, Mount Weather), refuting any notion of a fixed/stable settler space. The construction of individual and group identities on the Ground is complex and entails various processes of Othering (Mert

188 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio and Firestone 156–157; Lavigne 141–145): The majority of the 100, who have been coded as expendable delinquents on the Ark (“Pilot”), create new identities by rejecting not just the Ark’s laws but any laws that would govern social interaction: As Bellamy puts it, on Earth the 100 can do “whatever the hell we want” (“Pilot”). This rejection of the “civilized” systems of the Ark resonates with the SF frontier myth’s emphasis on independence from institutional, social, and political constraints on the frontier (Katerberg 1). However, the series presents this rejection not as a basis for creating a frontier democracy but as leading to a splitting: Clarke’s group seeks to reestablish communication with the Ark while Bellamy’s group wants the Ark to think they are dead. Both groups employ Othering based on notions of class: Bellamy and Murphy code Clarke’s group as “the privileged” (“Pilot”) and they derogatively label Clarke “princess” and see Wells as the despised “first son” of Jaha (“Pilot”). They engage in stereotyping, “an arrested, fixated form of representation” (Bhaba 75), which does not recognize the members of Clarke’s group as individuals but reduces them to representatives of the upper class on the Ark. This mode of representation, however, is always connected to reassertions of one’s own identity and positions of power (Kerslake 11): The main reason for Bellamy to code Clarke’s group as an Other is to cement his own leadership status and to protect himself from persecution on the Ark (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming”). Clarke’s group also employs derogative terms for Bellamy’s group— Clarke calls Bellamy a “total ass” (“Day Trip”), Monty describes him as a “­p ower-hungry, ­s elf-serving jackass” (“Earth Kills”), and Wells sets Bellamy’s group apart by calling them dangerous “criminals” (“Earth Kills”). While they also employ stereotypes, their Othering is not directed against another class but against the “whatever the hell we want” doctrine. Othering on Earth remains ambiguous—while it sets apart Bellamy’s and Clarke’s group on the basis of perceived differences, the methods of Othering which both groups use ironically mirror the system of the Ark which the 100 reject. The ­neo-frontier spaces of the camp here trouble the conventions of traditional colonial SF in which the respective Other “forever remain[s] a figure apart” (Kerslake 11). The series complicates Othering as the 100 also define themselves against Grounder tribes on Earth. The series frames the Grounders in terms of the popular cultural Native American. The Grounders function as an indigenous Other which needs to be erased in order for the settler to exist in the new land (s)he has taken possession of (Veracini, Settler Colonialism 25). In many respects, the representations of the Grounders are similar to those of the Reavers in Firefly, the Sixers in Terra Nova,



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and the Irathients in Defiance: The 100 represent Grounders as violent, aggressive, and culturally different, coding them as a “dehumanized foreign threat” (Lavigne 142). After a surprise attack on Jasper in “Pilot” and the abduction of Octavia in “His Sister’s Keeper,” the 100 begin to construct another us/them binary, separating them from the Grounders. Bellamy sees the Grounders as “animal[s]” in “Day Trip” and Raven claims that “[v]iolence is the only thing those people understand” (“Unity Day”)—two thinly disguised allusions to the stereotypical “Savage” in the Western. While The 100 draws on the “Savage” from the classic Western, the series interrogates this stereotype by referencing the historical “race war” (Herzberg 2). In U.S. popular culture, Native Americans often were reduced to “wild, unpredictable savages, motivated by vengeance and bent on raping and killing” (Hilger 2). This often served to fuel a “­sure-fire melodramatic plotline about race war [between ‘white’ settlers and ‘red’ Native Americans]” (Herzberg 2), a narrative pattern which also dominates The 100. Yet, the stereotype of the violent Native American is partially rooted in reality as wars were common among tribes even in ­pre-contact times (3–8) and some of them followed a “warrior culture” in order to protect themselves against other tribes and the white settlers (7). A similar conundrum underlies the relations between the 100 and the Grounders. On the one hand, the construction of difference hinges on visual appearances. The ­mise-en-scène and costuming represent the Grounders as ­stand-ins for Native Americans in Westerns: They wear ragtag clothing; hunt and fight with bows, arrows, and spears; apply war paint to their faces; ride horses; and use war horns to communicate. On the other hand, the Grounder tribes are shown to employ radical violence against the 100 whom they see as invaders (“Unity Day,” “We Are Grounders, Part 1,” “We Are Grounders, Part 2”). This paradoxically validates the stereotypical representation which the 100 employ. When Octavia implores the Grounder Lincoln to convince the 100 that he is not “the enemy,” Lincoln tellingly responds: “I am” (“Day Trip”). The ­neo-frontier spaces of The 100 complement the ones in Defiance: Both series reenact aspects of U.S. settler history—the expropriation and genocide of Native Americans in Defiance and the historical “race wars” in The 100. This reenactment moves beyond a reductive representation of mythical SF frontier spaces as it explicitly reflects on the dialectical complexities of historical frontier spaces as they have been disclosed by New Western History. Despite this, The 100 at least partially destabilizes Othering between the 100 and the Grounders through showing similarities between both groups. For instance, Anya—the leader of the Grounder

190 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio army—codes the 100 as violent invaders who have trespassed into Grounder territory (“Pilot,” “Earth Skills,” and “His Sister’s Keeper”). Not unlike Bellamy or Raven, she frames the 100 as a violent, aggressive Other as the emergency flares have burned down a Grounder village (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming”) and Lincoln has been tortured by the 100 (“Unity Day”). Mert and Firestone sum up the basic paradox of the series: “[B]oth groups fail to recognize the worst in themselves, offering those behaviors as normalized means of protecting themselves as individuals or the community; yet they clearly identify similar tactics as barbarous traits of the Other” (159). This crucial insight is not acknowledged by the 100 or the Grounders as communities but individuals realize that both groups are responsible. Finn realizes that the ­v iolent-and-hence-to-be-destroyed Other argument is flawed: “You know, they could say the same thing about us. If we keep going on this way, we’ll never stop digging graves” (“Unity Day”). He points out that the 100 should not throw away their “second chance” by repeating history—a point which directly references the wars between U.S. settlers and Native American tribes. Despite these realizations, The 100 does not destabilize or move beyond Othering to the same degree as Terra Nova (in which contact allows for revisions of views) and Defiance (in which the city creates new transcultural spaces). The predominant use of violence in governing social interactions and in defining social spaces, combined with the “whatever the hell we want” doctrine, reify antisocial relations rather than opening up “a meeting place between cultures or civilizations, were there are always two sides to any story, and where exploring the radical differences between those two sides […] becomes the heart of the adventure” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167). Not unlike in the classic Western, violence is directed against an Other in order to regenerate the individual or settler group Self (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5; Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 11–12). The absence of laws validates regenerative violence both within the camp and between the 100 and the Grounders: In the camp, Charlotte kills Wells in an act of revenge (“Earth Kills”), John Murphy is lynched (“Murphy’s Law”), and Murphy tortures Bellamy in turn (“We Are Grounders, Part 1”). In response to the purported violent “nature” of the Grounders, Bellamy considers it legitimate to torture the Grounder Lincoln (“Contents Under Pressure”) and Raven, Jasper and Monty detonate a bomb among the Grounders (“I Am Become Death,” “The Calm”). The conflict even culminates in a massacre of genocidal proportions in “We Are Grounders, Part 2” in which the 100 use the rocket fuel to incinerate the Grounder army. This resembles the Gnadenhutten Massacre of the Delaware tribe in



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1872 (Hixson viii–ix) and the killing campaigns during the “Californian Indian catastrophe” (Madley 3) which exterminated 80 percent of Native American populations in California between 1846 and 1873 (10). The ending of the first season suggests that although the 100 and Grounders live on Earth together, this contact does not create a Thirdspace. The 100 remains locked in thinking in terms of Self/Other and a settler space/“Indian space” binary which do not open up a new understanding of Earth as a communal dwelling place but reinforce the settler maxim of separation. Ultimately, the Ground occupies an ­i n-between position between mythical frontier spaces and ­neo-frontier spaces. The 100 substitutes a construction of settler spaces as changeable and relational for mythical notions of a settler collective (the camp as a space of both permanence and temporariness) and ­self-reflectively engages with the history of U.S. “race wars” but remains tied to frontier ideologies, Othering, and conflicts instead of transcending the Self/Other binary through transgressions or a Thirdspace. The series offers temporary possibilities for revision—Octavia and Lincoln want to live together and learn from each other (“His Sister’s Keeper,” “Unity Day”)4 and Finn and Clarke attempt to forge an alliance with Anya’s tribe (“Unity Day”). Ultimately, these opportunities are thwarted as peace negotiations escalate into violent battle (“Unity Day”) and Octavia feels forced to stay with “my people” (“I Am Become Death”). Therefore, I disagree with Carlen ­L avigne’s reading of The 100 as progressively breaking down the Self/Other binary (145). Cultural contacts between the 100/former Ark citizens and the Grounders become more intricate in seasons 2–5 and “Thirdspaces” are constructed momentarily, e.g., the “Skaikru” from the Ark become a Grounder clan of their own (“Ye Who Enter Here”) and later they even merge (“Die All, Die Merrily”). Thirdspaces always shatter again, with the “Sky People” and Grounder tribes reverting back to Othering, fighting each other, and establishing mutually exclusive spaces.5 In contrast to Terra Nova and Defiance in which ­neo-frontier spaces move beyond the SF frontier myth, the ­neo-frontier spaces of The 100 at least partially refit the series into these mythical patterns, despite paying attention to the complexities of the settler history of the United States.

Temporary Permanence and Racist Reflections The construction of the Ark and the camp on Earth in The 100 departs from traditional settler spaces in SF frontier fiction. The Ark presents an extrapolation from both the ISS and visions articulated by Gerard O’Neill (the architectural structure, the interconnected

192 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio modules, the cosmopolitan cooperation in its construction). At the same time, it renegotiates settler colonial notions of permanence/temporariness. The series stages the Ark as a transitory, temporary space whose only function for the citizens lies in enabling a future return to Earth. This reshaping of traditional settler spaces works through promoting a “terracentrism” through politics, education and even religion (perceiving Earth as a heaven/paradise). Nevertheless, this imagined construction of the Ark and Earth does not establish a homogenous settler space as relational points of view (Kane’s coding of the Ark as the only place for permanent survival) and the fracturing of social spaces along class lines (Jaha vs. Sydney, the ruling council vs. the working class) present the Ark as a contested and contradictory lived space. This fracturing is connected to Othering which is not directed toward an external Other but is employed within the settler body politic itself. Cultural and social Othering on the Ark is marked by traditional conceptions of difference and is reinforced by videographic means and narratives. Yet, the series blurs the poles of Otherness/sameness as the difference between both groups is simultaneously upheld and disavowed. As such, the ­neo-frontier spaces of the Ark draw on frontier thinking but also open these spaces up through emphasizing changeability: The Ark is predicated on both permanence and movement; it is imagined as a temporary space to be left behind but also a permanent home. The same oscillation underlies the construction of social spaces in which perceptions and constructions both draw on ­perceived-to-be permanent differences but also on a changeable and relational sameness. The camp on Earth constitutes a malleable spatial construction: The series presents it as simultaneously temporary (as an inadequate site for ­long-time residence) and permanent (as a home based on a right to the “land,” and as a place of communal identity and emotional attachment). As such, it counters the simplistic notion of frontier spaces as temporary spaces which eventually need to be left behind due to the desire for “free land” or imperial expansion. The camp instead presents a complex interactional, heterogeneous ­neo-frontier space which moves beyond a unified settler space. However, the construction of social spaces within the camp and in relation to the Grounder tribes remains locked in thinking in terms of “­O ther-ness” and a frontier mythical rejection of systems of governance which validates violence as a predominant means for social organization. Othering in the series is complexly layered—based on differences in class, conflicting principles of social organization (a regulated community vs. the “whatever the hell we want” doctrine), and colonial ways of thinking in terms of



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race (perceiving the Grounders as an animalistic, violent Native American Other). Despite frequent interactions between the 100 and the Grounders, The 100 does not open up a permanent Thirdspace despite the ­O ctavia-Lincoln relationship and characters realizing that both groups are “united” by violence and a problematic repetition of U.S. settler history. Therefore, the Ark and the camp negotiate frontier spaces and neo-frontier spaces. While Terra Nova and Defiance question Othering through transgressivity and transcultural spaces, The 100 remains entrenched in colonial Othering, following traditional SF scenarios which presented “our reflection in a ­n ineteenth-century mirror” (Kerslake 24). The inability to move beyond these ways of thinking in The 100 still holds the potential for critique as it implicitly highlights the ongoing reliance on social and cultural Othering in ­t wenty-first-century American SF and U.S. culture in general.6

From Human/­Non-Human Spaces to Technological Ecosystems and a ­Neo-Frontier “Ground” Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 all engage with the wilderness/ civilization binary. The 100 adds a new dimension by juxtaposing Earth as an imagined space, Earth as a lived space, and the Ark. Terra Nova and Defiance challenge the wilderness/civilization binary by present­ ing a more sustainable relationship between the human and the non-human. In contrast, The 100 collapses the binary through an ecosystemic logic. While ecosystems play a major role in Terra Nova and Defiance, The 100 complements terrestrial ecosystems with the Ark which renegotiates the relationship between technology and nature and between the human and the ­non-human. The Ark brings together traditionally separate realms (advanced technological spaces and ecosystems) and can be read as questioning the role of technology in constructing SF frontier spaces.

(Natural) Environments and the Ark: Imagined Earthscapes and Technological Ecosystems The 100 complements the wilderness of an imaginary Earth with the Ark as a space which brings together the human and technological in new ways. The series represents Earth as an imaginary ­neo-frontier space, constructed by the citizens of the Ark. In Terra Nova and Defiance,

194 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio wilderness is imagined via SF frontier mythical conceptions and also lived in by the characters. In contrast, the Ground in The 100 does not merely replicate SF frontier conceptions of wilderness. Instead, it can be productively read via transcendentalism. Transcendentalism arose in the 1830s as a political, philosophical, religious, spiritual, and literary movement (Myerson, Petrulionis and Walls xxiv; Manzari 1792). Its followers posited that God and the divine could be found in every human being and within nature (Myerson, Petrulionis and Walls xxiv; Manzari 1795). Transcendentalism redefined the relationship between the human and nature in a ­proto-environmentalist way, positing that nature “points to divine lessons from which we can benefit once we learn to sympathize with the natural world” (Myerson, Petrulionis and Walls xxv). Transcendentalism negotiates religion, spirituality, and being in nature in unique ways which becomes useful for reading The 100 as the series resituates the human being within a “divine” environment and ­re-conceptualizes humans as a part of nature rather than as colonial “users” of nature. While transcendentalism plays an important role in how Earth is framed, the Ark renegotiates binaries of artificial/natural and technology/nature. I read it as a technological ecosystem that brings together a technological system and ecosystemic principles of organization. The concept of the ecosystem in ecology refers to “an integrated system composed of biotic and abiotic components” (Jørgensen 3) and usually denotes a larger area of space which is selected for examination, e.g., a lake or forest (3). Reading the Ark as a technological ecosystem reveals how the Ark is modeled after natural ecosystems, opening up a changed relationship between technology and nature: In The 100, technology no longer becomes a means for subjugating nature and the series criticizes the “technological frontier” in SF frontier fiction. Although the series sets apart Ark and Earth, the Ark is shaped by how the citizens relate to Earth as an imagined space. The series commences with an extreme ­close-up shot of Clarke creating charcoal drawings of trees and a ­s tar-spangled night sky in her cell on the Ark and then a panning shot transitions to Earth, followed by a “tour” of the station before zooming back into the cell (“Pilot”). The series frames Earth in terms of the staple image of the “Blue Planet” (Heise 22). Just like the Apollo 8 photograph, Earth is “set against a black background like a precious jewel in a case of velvet” (22), emphasizing its state as “a single entity, united, limited, and delicately beautiful” (22). This framing presents the exact reverse of the opening sequence of Terra Nova: Instead of ­zooming-in on Earth and settling on an apartment complex in a city, the camera zooms out of an artificial space in orbit, sets this space in



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relation to Earth, and returns to the space it began with. Whereas Terra Nova emphasizes the global environmental catastrophe on Earth which cannot be escaped from, The 100 connects the Ark inhabitants to Earth as an imagined beautiful natural place to which they wish to return. This opening already plays on the connections and separations between Earth and the Ark. As Mert and Firestone highlight, Clarke’s drawings are not representations of a known referent but are “tweaked”; they are drawn from historical records and cultural artifacts (155). For the Ark inhabitants, Earth is real and imagined at the same time. While Earth is physically “out there,” is it spatially removed. Similarly to the mythical West, Earth becomes a “realm of romantic destiny, where it works as an illusion, infusing the imagination with ideals, engendering a state of mind that is both inspiring and empowering” (Lehan 54). This is made explicit in Clarke’s opening voiceover: I feel the sun on my face. I see trees all around me, the scent of wildflowers on a breeze. It’s so beautiful. […] It’s been ­n inety-seven years since a nuclear apocalypse killed everyone on Earth, leaving the planet simmering in radiation. […] There is now only the Ark. […] Four more ­space-locked generations, and man can go home, back to the Ground. The Ground, that’s the dream. This is reality [“Pilot”].

Clarke constructs Earth as a mythical place (a “dream”) in contrast to the Ark. While the Ark is coded as a refuge from nuclear catastrophe it is not constructed as a home or place, i.e., a site to which humans feel tied via “affective, emotive bonds” (Ryan, Foote and Azaryahu 7). Instead, Earth becomes the site for these bonds. Her emotional attachment to Earth is based on imagined sensory perceptions of the natural environment—feeling sunlight, smelling wildflower scents, and gazing at trees. Clarke’s voiceover participates in transcendentalist ways of thinking which posit that nature imparts “divine lessons from which we can benefit once we learn to sympathize with the natural world” (Myerson, Petrulionis and Walls xxv). Clarke’s imagined experience parallels views of nature as offering “delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping” (Emerson 1114, italics in original). Clarke literalizes this by meticulously drawing trees, stars, and the sky. Her voiceover also emphasizes the generative potential of nature in an Emersonian manner in that “[t]he beauty of nature reforms itself in the mind, and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation” (Emerson 1117). The “new creation” in this case is the making of a new home on Earth in contrast to the insularism and isolation of humanity in space. This transcendentalist view departs from SF frontier

196 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio conceptualizations: For Clarke—and the citizens of the Ark—Earth does not present a frontier to be conquered but a site for a “new beginning” as the natural environment offers the capacity for ­self-reform and new forms of living with each other and with(in) nature. Recently, scholars have identified a resurgence of transcendental neoplatonistic ideas in how natural spaces are represented as ecosystemic networks in contemporary audiovisual SF, e.g., in James Cameron’s Avatar (Hillis). The 100 goes one step further by utilizing transcendentalism to rethink SF frontier mythical relationships between the human and the ­non-human. The transcendentalist framing of Earth counters the traditional role of natural spaces for the mythical frontier hero and colonizer. This is best exemplified by the practicing of a “nature religion” on the Ark which revolves around the ritualistic tending of the Eden Tree7 (“Murphy’s Law”). Vera Kane’s sermons place a transcendentalist “spiritual element” (Emerson 1116) in the Ground: Our ancestors built this Ark to be our salvation, but it’s also our test. But we endure because we have faith. Faith that one day, generations from now, our people will return to the Ground. […] As the Earth will one day provide for us, so we provide for the Earth [“Murphy’s Law”].

Vera’s sermon presents humans as a part of nature. Like Emerson, she argues that human beings live “in unison with her works” (1117). The reciprocal relationship invoked by Vera (“As the Earth will one day provide for us, so we provide for the Earth”)—symbolized by the watering of the Eden Tree—expresses a notion of environmental stewardship and embeddedness of human beings in a natural environment. This belief follows the ecological insight that “nature and culture must be seen as mutuality rather than as separable domains” (Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism 67). It conceptualizes the human being as an “­i ndividual-in-environment” (Evernden 97) rather than standing apart from it. Such a conception departs from the mythical frontier hero who subdues and exploits the environment for his or her own gains. This transcendentalist nature religion therefore rejects colonial binaries: Earth and humans produce space relationally—only through interactions and interconnections can the transformative, transcendentalist neo-frontier spaces of Earth come into being. This positive framing of the Ground codes the Ark as a negative, transitional space for humanity. Clarke’s metaphor of being stranded turns the Ark into an undesirable site and Vera Kane frames it as a testing ground for the citizens’ capacity for endurance until their return to the Ground. The construction of these spaces as natural vs. artificial gains importance here. In contrast to Gerard O’Neill’s claim that



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space colonies would provide “living space[s] of higher quality than on earth” (38), Clarke and Vera Kane reject the Ark as a permanent home as it is an artificial ­non-place. According to anthropologist Marc Augé, ­non-places are marked by “the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral” (78), e.g., airports, motorway routes, and hotel chains (79). ­Non-places invert the meaning of places as sites of emotional attachment and their centrality for lived identities as they are “spaces formed in relation to certain ends (transport, transit, commerce, leisure)” (94). They construct the individual as a standardized, anonymous user who passes through the ­non-place instead of fully experiencing it and living in it (101–104). For Clarke and Vera Kane’s followers, the Ark presents a temporary fleeting space which matters only for a “certain end”—as a launching pad back to Earth. This framing is, however, problematic as it cancels out that the Ark is a place of its own. As Lawrence Buell points out, ­long-term inhabitation transforms spaces into places (63–64) and creates a sense of place, drawing on “serial ­place-experiences,” be they personal or cultural memories maintained over generations (73). The Ark has a long history of inhabitation—97 years at the beginning of the series (“Pilot”). The moment of ­place-making is celebrated annually on Unity Day with children reenacting the Ark’s creation (“Unity Day”). One of the children explains the process of unification as follows: Long ago when the Earth was on fire, twelve stations floated through space. All alone. Then, one day, Mir floated by Shenzhen and they realized life would be better together. The other stations saw this and they wanted to be together, too. When all the stations were joined, they called themselves [the Ark].

The narrative constructed here draws on the emotional needs of the citizens of the twelve stations to form a common place: The Ark constitutes a site of “throwntogetherness” (140) in which diverse actors interact with each other and with their shared environment. The citizens connect to the Ark and experience it as either a positive or negative place. A sense of place ties sites to feelings—reaching from a positive sense of “comfort, safety, and ­well-being” (Ryan, Foote and Azaryahu 7) to a negative sense expressed by “feelings of fear, disorientation, and dislike” (7). The first position underlies memories of happy family pasts in The 100: Chancellor Jaha ­re-watches a recording of his son as a child (“We Are Grounders, Part 1”) and a flashback in “Earth Kills” emphasizes feelings of “comfort, safety and ­well-being” through the Griffins’ and Jahas’ watching of a soccer game and their playful banter. In spite of that, the Ark is also coded with feelings of “fear, disorientation,

198 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio and dislike”: Octavia Blake is forced to stay inside the Blakes’ quarters due to the risk of being discovered by population control (“His Sister’s Keeper”). The series emphasizes her feeling of enclosure and Octavia ties the Ark to a personal history of oppression, involuntary immobility, and imprisonment. Instead of being a fleeting ­non-place, the Ark therefore constitutes a complex, perspectival, and ­emotionally-loaded construct which transcends its function as a launching pad to the Ground. Although the natural environment is spatially absent, the Ark follows structures of organization found in natural ecosystems. The Ark constitutes a technological ecosystem. The concepts of “technology” and “ecosystem” have mostly been connected in IT and communications technologies research. For instance, Nigel Walton reads the Internet as an “ecosystem in its own right” (xiii) and Mark Skilton identifies ecosystemic relations in interconnected digital technological networks including mobile devices, websites, and technologized buildings (xxx, 27). My approach, instead, extends ecological definitions to technological spaces in following Sven Erik Jørgensen’s claim that “[a]ll systems that encompass interacting biotic and abiotic components may be considered an ecosystem” (3). Biotic and abiotic components are tied into an “integrated system” (3) in which all entities are linked and depend on each other for the maintenance of the ecosystem (Evernden 93). In The 100, the Ark constitutes an integrated system including human (biotic) and ­non-human (abiotic) parts. The interconnected stations serve complementary functions which ensure the ongoing existence of the Ark and its citizens and are interdependent with humans: While Hydra Station, Mecha Station, and Power Station contain the ­self-operating subsystems generating water, electrical power, and spare parts, they require human maintenance to keep functioning. As Jørgensen notes, ecosystems are “­self-organizing and ­self-regulated due to a very large number of feedback mechanisms” (4) which is also the case for the Ark. The Ark replicates services which ecosystems provide for humans which allows for the series to renegotiate SF frontier relationships between technology and nature. Human beings depend on natural ecosystems as they provide “production services” (e.g., agriculture, fishing, and forestry), “regulation services” (filtration, cycling, and stabilization processes), and “cultural services” (e.g., recreation, spiritual inspiration) which are essential for the ongoing existence of humanity (3). The technological ecosystem provides the same functions: ­C limate-controlled farming areas provide nutrition; filtration, cycling, and stabilization are fully automated (e.g., gravity is generated by the movement of rotational rings); and cultural services are offered by recreational areas (e.g., the mess hall). A crucial difference is that the availability of these services



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depends on a strict maintenance of the complex technological systems by the engineers. The 100 constructs the Ark as a ­neo-frontier space by translating natural ecosystem services into a ­human-technological system: Technology no longer functions as a means to shape nature to the human will but the example set by nature governs how the Ark can function as a ­self-sustaining entity.

On the Ground: Wilderness Spaces and the Wilderness/Civilization Binary on Earth The Ground in The 100 constitutes a ­post-apocalyptic environment which differs from Terra Nova and Defiance. Terra Nova dislocates natural spaces to the Cretaceous and Defiance employs a terraformed ecology. The 100 mixes these approaches: It takes a familiar form (North American forests) but alters it by the effects of ­human-made technology (radiation). As in Defiance, the Ground occupies an ­i n-between space between the natural and the artificial, a state which complicates the relationship between the human and the ­non-human in the series. The 100 draws on modes of representation which are grounded in the SF frontier myth not unlike in Terra Nova and The 100. At the same time, the series collapses the wilderness/civilization and human/­nonhuman binaries by playing on perception and by resituating human characters on the Ground. The concepts of “the beautiful,” “the grotesque,” and “the sublime” become useful here. The beautiful rose to importance in ­eighteenth-century philosophy, e.g., by Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant (Shaw 9–10). It refers to an experience of pleasure evoked by a particular object/thing in contrast to the vastness/overwhelming power of the sublime (Burke 550; Shaw 9). It brings together a mental experience with an “experience of emotions, passions, desires and senses” (Heller xliii), particularly of joy and rapture (xliii). Experiences of the beautiful can have a holistic effect which is why the concept becomes useful for reading wilderness in The 100 (xliii). The grotesque represents the antithesis of the beautiful as it refers to objects and/or bodies which are marked by a troubling state of ambiguity and ambivalence (Edwards and Graulund 2–3). The transgression of borders defines the grotesque as it calls into question distinctions such as Self/Other, civilization/savagery, and normal/abnormal (9). The concept becomes important for examining how The 100 collapses the distinction between a human and ­non-human environment. Lastly, in the eighteenth century, the sublime was associated with an overwhelming experience of something vast and grand which evokes both fascination/delight and terror/pain (Shaw 6; Burke 549). The sublime comes into play whenever

200 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio an object or event pushes the observer to the limits of comprehension; i.e., “thought trembles on the edge of extinction” (Shaw 148). The subform of the Romantic sublime becomes important here as it locates the sublime in the grandeur/vastness of nature (Shaw 5). In contrast to being imagined as a transcendentalist space, the representation of wilderness on the Ground becomes more complex once the 100 set foot on Earth (“Pilot”). The ways in which wilderness is perceived, conceived, and lived in aligns with the frontier myth but also questions the binaries of human/nature and civilization/wilderness. Clarke points out that the 100 “will be tested by the Earth, by the secrets it hides” (“Earth Skills,” “Earth Kills,” “Murphy’s Law,” “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” “His Sister’s Keeper,” “Contents Under Pressure,” “Unity Day”). She presents Earth as a testing ground.8 This framing participates in the frontier mythical belief that wilderness is a natural force which has to be struggled against and overcome by the settler. As Richard Lehan observes, the frontier is steeped in “historical determinism” (2) which emphasizes “a physical or environmental factor” (2) in line with the Darwinian paradigm of natural selection and the Social Darwinist “survival of the fittest.” This problematic framing also underlies Clarke’s statement: The physical environment requires frontier hero qualities for survival, controlling it by uncovering “the secrets it hides.” She places agency on the settler side of a human/nature divide: As environmental scholars Val Plumwood (4), Max Oelschlaeger (5), and William Cronon (80–81) note, such binary constructs displace human beings from the environment and promote an illusory sense of anthropocentric autonomy from nature. While Clarke’s comment sets up a human/nature binary, the formulation she uses simultaneously challenges anthropocentrism. Clarke’s wording, namely that the 100 “will be tested by the Earth,” attributes agency to Earth: Nature does not appear as “a stage on which humans act” (Oelschlaeger 340) but becomes an agent in its own right. This resonates with Massey’s claim that “the element of surprise, the unexpected, the other, is crucial to what space gives us” (112). Earth escapes settler attempts at achieving complete knowledge about wilderness. As Clarke realizes, Earth does not correspond to prerecorded knowledge (“Earth Skills”). In lieu, living on Earth requires a conscious encounter with the Other. This ­re-conceptualization refutes the SF frontier view of wilderness as a stubborn, passive Other which needs to be tamed and transformed through “civilization.” Still, the representation of wilderness remains ambiguous. Not unlike in Terra Nova, the characters’ encounters with wilderness draw on the frontier myth but also subvert such representations. In Judeo-



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Christian religion, wilderness is perceived as a site of exile, danger (Garrard 68), fear and terror (Cronon 70–71) and as “something alien to man—an insecure and uncontrollable environment against which civilization had waged an unceasing struggle” (Nash 8). The 100 adopts this line of thinking, often by how it represents interactions with animals. In contrast to Terra Nova’s dialectic approach, the narrative patterns and television style framing in The 100—not unlike Defiance—collapses animals into wilderness. Settler ideologies usually conflated animals with wilderness, equating the “savagery” of animals with the “savagery” of wilderness in general (Vint, Animal Alterity 113). This conflation marks the violent struggles between the 100 and animals on Earth: A mutated eel attacks Octavia (“Pilot”), a cougar assails the rescue party who tries to free Jasper (“Earth Skills”) and a swarm of birds launches an assault on Clarke, Finn, and Wells at a river (“Earth Kills”).9 As in Terra Nova and Defiance, The 100 frames these confrontations by adopting formal features from the horror genre. A good example is the attack of the mutated eel on Octavia (“Pilot”): The scene begins with an extreme long shot of the river with the camera focusing on an unidentified animal moving underneath the surface. This is accompanied by a shift in musical theme to rapid drums. A ­shot-reverse montage cuts between the shocked faces of the group at the shore and a ­close-up of the animal moving toward Octavia, followed by a rapid ­z oom-in on Octavia which simulates the animal’s point of view. The framing draws on the subgenre of horror movies featuring sea monsters such as It Came from Beneath the Sea, Jaws, Piranha, and Creature from the Black Lagoon in which “water is [presented as] a natural cover, a hiding place and a source for the monster” (Kawin 79). This framing reifies mythical representations of an antagonism between the human and the ­non-human but it also grants agency to the ­non-human: The eel does not attack because it is a “monster” but in order to defend its habitat not unlike the pterosaurs in Terra Nova. In fact, the scene draws attention to the fact that the 100 are (literal) aliens to the ­post-apocalyptic ecosystems on Earth. The ambiguity is further complicated by how the series turns the natural environment into something uncertain and unpredictable: The 100 have to face the insecurity of lingering effects of radiation (“Pilot”), the sudden appearances of acid fog (“Earth Kills”), and the unknown side effects of Jobi nuts (“Day Trip”). All of these instances reaffirm a human/nature divide as the 100 are not embedded in the natural environment but stand outside of it. However, these dangers are largely of human origin: The radiation is the fallout of nuclear technology, and the acid fog is revealed to be a chemical compound created by the

202 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Mountain Men (“Fog of War”).10 This human origin of purportedly natural dangers destabilizes the human/nature and civilization/wilderness binaries by highlighting the large extent to which Earth has been modified by ­human-created technologies. The 100 here stresses the ecological insight that wilderness is crucially a “product of […] civilization” (Cronon 69) which “could hardly be contaminated by the very stuff it is made” (Cronon 69). Encounters with wilderness and animals also become a means for the series to critically engage with the frontier hero. The 100 draws on this trope but also mocks its formulaic usage in SF frontier fiction. The coding of wilderness as a constant threat to the characters reaffirms their identities in terms of the frontier hero who shows “­awe-inspiring strength, skills, and courage” (Den Uyl 31). Encounters with animals and the acid rain underline the characters’ “­c oming-of-age” via displaying heroic traits: Wells saves Clarke from a cougar (“Earth Skills”); Clarke, Finn, Wells and Bellamy locate hiding places when the acid fog advances (“Earth Skills”), and the previously immature Jasper proves his frontier masculinity by rescuing Octavia (“Pilot”). Still, The 100 includes a moment of metafictional critique: After Jasper has saved Octavia, Monty notes: “Note to self, next time, save the girl” (“Pilot”). While Monty’s remark functions as a joke, it lays bare the trope of the frontier hero and the typical SF hero narrative of saving a woman in danger from harm.11 The comment plays on the repetitive use of this trope in SF frontier fiction by hinting at the reappearance of a similar situation in the narrative future (“next time”).12 The series here highlights the formulaic quality of the trope and of generic narratives that take place in wilderness in SF frontier fiction.13 Ultimately, The 100 goes beyond traditional SF frontier fiction by recognizing the very formulaic fictionality of the wilderness spaces it constructs. As shown, the representation of wilderness in The 100 both draws on and disrupts the SF frontier binary of the human/­non-human. The series, at one point, even collapses this distinction through playing on perception and reaction. In the “Pilot,” the search team discovers a deer in the distance. The encounter can be read in terms of a transformative clash between the beautiful and the grotesque. The beautiful was established in American philosophical discourses in the eighteenth century (Burke 550; Shaw 9). In contrast to the terror and pain of the sublime, it was associated with a pleasurable experience (Burke 550). The beautiful constitutes an experience in which “[b]eauty enchants us, troubles us, appeases us, and causes joy and rapture. It is revealing, captivating, and gives us pleasure. We enjoy it; it elevates us and makes us ecstatic” (Heller xliii). The scene participates in this as it starts with a point of



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view shot of the group looking at the deer. This shot is followed by a reverse shot of the group’s responses of wonder, joy, and pleasure. While the deer constitutes the source of beauty, it is the act of looking (both of the camera and the characters) that establishes the ­non-human as beautiful. While the deer signifies a “good sign of nature recovered” (Kauth 293), the scene here also establishes a clear separation between the human looker and the ­non-human ­looked-at. The scene, however, disrupts the experience of the beautiful as a twig breaks and a ­close-up reveals that the deer has two heads, one of which is dysfunctional and scarred as a result of radiation. The beautiful here shifts to the grotesque. A grotesque body “lacks unity, it is disproportionate, it is excessive and it is revolting” (Edwards and Graulund 62). The mutated body not only cancels out the beautiful but becomes a productive means for reshaping the relationship between the human and the ­non-human. As Edwards and Graulund emphasize, the grotesque is always indeterminate, breaking down borders between Self/ Other, civilization/savagery and normal/abnormal (9). It is this state of “anxious indeterminacy” (4) that allows for the grotesque to disrupt binaries. Kauth reads the deer scene as indicative of how The 100 blurs “the dichotomy between pristine sylvan wilderness that harkens back to our distant past and insidiously poisoned landscape that echoes our present and portends our future” (293). The interplay of the beautiful and the grotesque here collapses the distinction between the human and the ­non-human: The deer is not a natural beautiful sight to behold but it is the grotesque “product” of ­human-made technologies. As such, the Ground calls into question the transcendentalist vision held by the Ark citizens: Moving from the Ark to Earth does not entail a return to nature but a return to an environment that is still marked by the human through the fallout of technologies that have fundamentally changed Earth’s ecosystems and its inhabitants.14 The series further collapses this binary through decentering characters and embedding them within the ecosystems of the planet. The representation can be once again be read via the beautiful: This time it is connected to an ecological version of the sublime. In the “Pilot,” Clarke awakens at night and discovers fluorescent ­b lue-and-green organisms on tree barks and moss. In “Earth Skills,” Octavia spots a ­blue-and-pink butterfly and follows it into the forest, finding herself amidst a butterfly swarm. Both scenes commence with close up shots of Clarke and Octavia who display a mixture of astonishment, enjoyment, and reverence ­v is-à-vis the natural environment. Both scenes are framed via extreme long shots which not only situate the characters within nature but physically dwarf them in relation to the natural

204 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio environment and they participate in the holistic effect of the beautiful (Heller xliii): Characters experience themselves and their environment as an interconnected whole. This experience of unity and harmony counteracts earlier framings of wilderness as a site of danger. Simultaneously, it evokes the vastness and grandeur of nature which is a part of the romantic sublime (Shaw 5–6). In the philosophy of Burke and Kant, encounters with nature ultimately empower the human and set him or her above nature (Shaw 6).15 In The 100, the characters are not set apart or placed into an elevated power position. Both scenes draw attention to the ­c o-presence of lifeforms—including microorganisms, butterflies, trees, and humans—which are all equally parts of Earth’s ecosystems. The ­neo-frontier spaces of Earth transcend the wilderness/ civilization binary by highlighting the inextricability of the human and the ­non-human rather than presenting wilderness as a mere backdrop for human actions or an obstacle to the frontier hero.

Nature, Humans, and Technologies as an Integrated Whole While Terra Nova and Defiance rework the wilderness/civilization binary through a clash between imagined spaces which follow the SF frontier myth and lived spaces, The 100 also reshapes imagined spaces: The series constructs Earth as a transcendentalist ­neo-frontier space which indicates an ecological rethinking of SF frontier spaces. While The 100 presents the Ark citizens as dreaming of a return to Earth, this return is decoupled from colonial agendas of taking the land and conquering wilderness. By drawing on transcendentalism, the series reimagines the relationship between the human and the ­non-human in terms of making a home in nature, a relation of environmental stewardship, and an imagined embeddedness rather than standing apart from nature. The representation of the Ark and the Ground goes beyond renegotiating the human and ­non-human as interactive and interdependent: The 100 collapses the very distinction between human and ­non-human. The technological ecosystem of the Ark presents humans and technological systems as integrated with each other: It rejects both the wilderness/civilization binary and notions of a “technological frontier” (i.e., the belief in human progress through mastering technology and controlling the ­non-human). Natural ecosystems become a model for the Ark rather than something that needs to be “civilized.” This contrasts starkly with Terra Nova and Defiance which—despite exploring the possibilities of a natural city—depend on ­l arge-scale invasive transforma-



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tions of ecosystems in order to construct their natural cities in the first place. The Ground also renegotiates the relationship between the human and the ­non-human. The 100 works with an imaginative and ­e motional-perceptual framework by employing the beautiful, the grotesque, and an ecological sublime: The series’ use of the beautiful enables a holistic rethinking as characters experience themselves and their environment as an integrated whole. It uses the grotesque to shatter distinctions between human and ­non-human, calling attention to how the animals and Earth are shaped by the effects of ­human-made technologies. The 100 uses an ecological sublime that recovers the grandeur and vastness of the Romantic sublime but reworks it as a means not to raise the human above the ­non-human but for positioning humans as a small part of the ecosystems of Earth alongside other life forms. The 100 therefore goes even further than Terra Nova and Defiance which reshape the relationship between humans and their environment through sustainability (the natural cities in Terra Nova and Defiance and companion species relations in Terra Nova).

Human/­Non-Human Riskscapes of Uncertainty and Risky ­World-Making ­Neo-frontier riskscapes in The 100 resemble Terra Nova and Defiance as the series also focuses on the effects of global risks, in this case of a nuclear winter. The 100 juxtaposes two interrelated riskscapes— the local riskscape of the Ark and the global riskscape of the Ground. The Ark becomes important because it engages with technology differently from Terra Nova and Defiance. Technology in Star Trek, Firefly, Terra Nova, and Defiance either becomes a risk in itself (e.g., the machine takeover in Star Trek) or becomes a risk through human/alien usage (the experimentation on River in Firefly, the side effects of technologies in Terra Nova and Defiance). In contrast, The 100 focuses on risks which are the product of the interplay between human and the ­non-human: Risks do not emerge from the environment—as is often the case in SF frontier fiction—but materialize as the result of unpredictable interactions between humans and technologies. The representation of risk management becomes important here. The 100 juxtaposes two forms—attempts to respond to risks by political/scientific experts aboard the Ark and more individualistic responses to risks by laymen (the 100) on the Ground. This arrangement allows for

206 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio the series to present risk management as a contested practice and complicates it as a complex enterprise.

The Ark at/as Risk: The Technological Ecosystem and ­Neo-Frontier Riskscapes My analysis of riskscapes in The 100 returns to the technological ecosystem. The concept allows for a nuanced analysis of the role risk plays in the construction of the Ark. The 100 interrogates how risks are traditionally produced in SF frontier fiction: Risk no longer constitutes an external threat, i.e., something that threatens human characters from the outside, e.g., the risks of alien planetary environments (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 13) or the risk of rogue technologies (as in Star Trek). Instead, risk becomes an internal threat that does not emerge from the use of technologies but from the Ark as a technological ecosystem in which the human and the technological are inextricably intertwined. The Ark goes beyond ­h igh-risk systems of the present as the human and technologies form a new type of ecosystem. Nevertheless, concepts from the fields of risk assessment and engineering become useful. These fields pay attention to ­h igh-risk technological systems and how they produce risk and uncertainty (Perrow 3; Pettersen 39–40). This approach proves valuable for reading the interrelations between the human and the ­non-human on the Ark which generate catastrophic risks. Riskscapes usually are interactive constructs: Risks are located in a particular landscape (­Müller-Mahn xviii) and human beings construct and react to riskscapes through their actions and imaginations (­Müller-Mahn and Everts 28). What scholars indicate here is a division between risky spaces and human perceptions of these risks and spaces. In contrast, the Ark does not allow for such a separation: Risks are created through the interconnectivity and interdependency of the human and technological. The Ark brings together the risk of technological failure/breakdown with the risk of overpopulation: Technological failures necessitate the reduction of the population, and overpopulation endangers the ongoing functioning of the technological system: This, in turn, necessitates harsh forms of risk management (“floating” criminals to relieve population stress, and population policies similar to Terra Nova’s 2149). This interactivity of interrelated risks departs from traditional SF frontier spaces which are mostly dominated by one specific type of risk, e.g., technological risk (e.g., risk technologies in Star Trek and Firefly), viral risk (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 4) or ­socio-political risk (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 123–124). Instead, the riskscapes



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generated by the interplay of humans and technological systems shape the Ark as a ­neo-frontier space in which uncertainty becomes a feature of the system itself. The risk of technological failures constitutes a major concern throughout the first season of The 100. The energy distribution system, water supply system, and life support are interconnected and technological systems and the human population are linked and dependent on each other. The concepts “interactive complexity” (Perrow 72) and “tight coupling” (8) become useful here. Technological systems, such as power plants or battleships, are increasingly designed to accommodate a large number of functions and to operate on a large scale (3). In order to fulfill these roles, they are defined by “interactive complexity”: There is a higher degree of interdependence between different systems but also between components within the same technological system (72, 92–93). This is tied to a relation of “tight coupling” (89): There is “no slack or buffer or give between two [interconnected] items” (89–90) of the technological system: A failure in one component inevitably spreads to other components, causing a chain reaction of failures (89–90). Interactive complexity and tight coupling create new forms of uncertainty: There is a high potential for unexpected interactions (hence risk), often with catastrophic effects (Perrow 72; Nye 167). The tight coupling and complex interactivity of the Ark endangers the station and its inhabitants as it turns accidents into a structural condition of the system. As Perrow notes, the concept of the accident has changed. In the past, accidents constituted “unintended and untoward event[s]” (63) which caused damage to people or objects due to human mistakes made out of neglect or inexperience (63). In contrast, accidents in ­h igh-risk technological systems have become a normal property of tightly coupled and interactively complex systems (Perrow 6). In The 100, engineer Jake Griffin discovers a failure in the Ark’s CO₂ scrubbers which is not a mistake caused by humans but a “normal accident” which puts the population at risk (“Earth Kills”). Normal accidents contribute to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Ark. They implicitly critique the SF frontier belief that technological systems can be fully controlled by human operators, scientists and engineers due to their “clever management” and “scientific genius” (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 170). Interactive complexity and tight coupling also emerge from unexpected interactions between technological systems and unforeseen human actions. In “Unity Day,” dissidents launch a dropship without decoupling from the Ark which cripples the technological ecosystem. In the series, engineers and politicians contemplate technical problems as something that can be fixed by human intervention (“Pilot,”

208 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio “Earth Skills,” “Earth Kills”). This technocratic belief in human power over technology is presented as flawed: Neither engineers nor scientists could predict the interactions between routinized technological systems and the seizure of the dropship.16 Hence, the Ark can be read as what has been called “unknown unknowns” (Pettersen 42). “Unknown unknowns” refer to situations of uncertainty in which risks become visible only in retrospect, after they have turned catastrophic (42). In The 100, risks that emerge from the interplay between human and technological systems only become apparent after the dissidents have initiated the launch of the dropship. The Ark is not a knowable technological space under human scientific control but is constantly reshaped by the unpredictable interactions between humans and technological systems. While the failure of the CO₂ scrubbers and the crippling of the Ark affect everybody, the series problematizes risk communication. Risk communication refers to the process of conveying information about risks to a particular audience by experts and authorities (Lundgren and McMakin 3). This process becomes important because risks must be staged in order to make them graspable and real for the public (Beck, World at Risk 10). In the series, Jake Griffin records a message to the population in which he describes the breakdown of life support as an “undeniable fact” (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming”). However, the Ark is controlled by the council who decides not to communicate this risk to the public (“Earth Skills,” “Earth Kills,” “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”). As Beck notes, risk “shapes our expectations, lodges in our heads and guides our actions” (Beck, World at Risk 10). Abby Griffin, Chancellor Jaha and ­Vice-Chancellor Kane recognize that communicating this risk could result in a panic and violent protests (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming”). ­Müller-Mahn and Everts contemplate riskscapes as interactive constructs of “real” risks and communities which perceive, conceive and live with these risks in their daily lives (28). Here, the council does not stage the risk for the public but conceals it, rendering its existence unreal. This conflict between the reality of risks and a lack of communication presents a systemic condition as the council later decides not to inform the public that there is not enough space on the dropships (“Contents Under Pressure,” “Unity Day”). In The 100, risks do not function as a challenge for individuals in isolation (as in the frontier myth) or as a communal democratic challenge as is often the case in SF frontier fiction (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 114–116). Instead, The 100 presents risk as a political issue whose lack of communication becomes a risk to the survival of the Ark itself. By representing risk communication as problematic in itself, the series questions the dominant role politics plays in staging risks.



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Managing the Riskscapes of the Ark: Contested Responses to Risk As the series constantly focuses on risks, risk management decisions structure the series’ narratives. Throughout the modern period, risks were conceptualized as “systemic, statistically describable and hence ‘calculable’ event types” which made risk management a linear process (Beck, World at Risk 7). From the twentieth century onward, risks became increasingly unknowable and incalculable, even for institutions and experts (8). Therefore, contemporary approaches contemplate risk management as an “unending and evolving process over time” (Busby 73). This conceptualization becomes useful as it draws attention to the evolving character of risk management which allows for examining how perceptions of risks and of spaces shape the Ark. Risk management in The 100 takes a different form from the SF frontier. A good example is the risk of overpopulation which is aggravated by the failure of the life support system. In traditional SF frontier fiction, the risk of overpopulation can often be “solved” by terraforming and colonizing other planets (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 173–174), paralleling the homesteading of “free land” (Turner 201–207). In contrast, this is impossible for the Ark inhabitants due to a lack of scientific knowledge and due to their terracentrism which envisions a future on Earth. While both ways of risk management suggest that risks can be overcome through migration, the difference in destination becomes significant. ­Neo-frontier risk management in The 100 no longer entails escaping from risks by colonizing outer space but directly engages with these risks on the Ark and the Ground. Not unlike Defiance, The 100 departs from representations of risk management as a ­straight-forward process for individuals in SF frontier fiction. The 100 interrogates two dimensions of risk perception—“deliberate, analytic information processing” (Slovic xxxi) and “intuitive and experiential thinking, guided by emotional and affective processes” (xxxi)—through the characters of ­Vice-Chancelor Marcus Kane and Dr. Abby Griffin. Kane embodies “deliberate, analytic information processing” (xxxi). His approach is rooted in the scientific predictability of risk as he relies on calculations and verifiable data and does not take into account emotions (“Pilot”). Kane pushes forward radical “solutions,” for instance, a reduction of the population based on statistical data: Sacrificing two hundred citizens will give engineering the time to fix the life support system (“Earth Skills”). This measure is implemented in “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” but The 100 presents it as a mistake (“Contents Under Pressure”). The series here challenges the efficacy of purely

210 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio analytical/rational risk management ­vis-à-vis the uncertainty and incalculability of the ­neo-frontier riskscapes of the series. In contrast, Abby’s risk management is presented as a mixture of “deliberate, analytic information processing” (Slovic xxxi) and “intuitive and experiential thinking, guided by emotional and affective processes” (xxxi). Abby complements rational scientific thinking with an “affect heuristic” (Slovic xxxii), i.e., a recourse to affect/emotions in order to assess risks and respond to them (xxxii). Her risk management is guided by medical knowledge and affective dimensions (e.g., her determination to save human lives, her ­ethical-moral codex, and the emotional bond to her daughter Clarke). This combination leads her to advocate for a return to Earth as an appropriate means for managing the risks of the Ark: She accepts the uncertainty of the ­neo-frontier riskscapes and is willing to take risks in order to survive. The series ultimately frames this form of risk management as positive: It is more successful in engaging with the risks of the Ark and the Ground as the population of the Ark manages to travel to Earth (“We Are Grounders, Part 2”). The 100 here frames pluralistic forms of risk perception and risk management as superior to ­one-dimensional approaches. This representation breaks with the conventions of SF frontier fiction in which risks are often perceived and managed via one frontier hero by a recourse to his/her “­awe-inspiring strength, skills, and courage” (Den Uyl 31). The 100 also juxtaposes different spatial and temporal dimensions as risk perception and risk management are tied to specific spaces. The first approach is linked to the Ark (Kane rejects the possibility of going to Earth), while the second approach is linked to a transition from the Ark to Earth. Both approaches diversify risk management as multitemporal. Risk management in Terra Nova and Defiance either engages with risks in an ad hoc manner in the present (Defiance) or by evading it by traveling to the past (Terra Nova). In contrast, The 100 presents risk management as simultaneously a ­short-term concern for the present (surviving on the Ark despite the failure of the life support system) and a ­long-term concern for the future (living on Earth). Therefore, The 100 stages risk management as a complex spatiotemporal endeavor. The series similarly represents risk management decisions as ambiguous rather than uncontested, ­c lear-cut solutions to risks. A good example is the practice of “floating.” Every crime committed on the Ark is punishable by death through floating. In risk theory, ambiguity refers to “a situation in which different and sometimes divergent streams of thinking and interpretation about the same risk phenomena and their circumstances are apparent” (Klinke and Renn 5). While



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floating is fixed by the Penal Code, it is highly contested among individuals (e.g., by Abby and Clarke Griffin). It is also dislodged from a mechanistic execution of the law through how the series frames the decision whether to float a criminal as situational. Jaha points out that making the correct decisions requires flexibility, i.e., knowing “when not to” resort to the legal risk management handbook (“Earth Skills”). The riskscapes of the Ark indicate that a ­one-dimensional approach to risk management cannot provide viable solutions. The 100 frames risk management as a complex process that has to take into account multiple spatial scales, temporal dimensions, science, laws, ethics, affect, emotions, and situational assessments. This framing criticizes conceptualizing risk management as the domain of individuals (e.g., of frontier heroes) or a process that should singularly rely on an analytic/rational approach. Hence, the ­neo-frontier risk management on the Ark not only constitutes a critical response to the ­post-apocalyptic world but also to the contemporary world risk society.

Managing the Riskscapes of Earth: Living with Risks and Individual Risk Taking The 100 juxtaposes two types of risk management. In contrast to the political risk management on the Ark, risk management on the Ground engages with SF frontier fiction, especially its focus on individualistic risk taking and the frontier hero as a risk manager. I will focus on two forms: “risk taking” and “edgework.” Risk taking and edgework shift the focus from anticipating and responding to risks to taking risks for individual or social gains. Both concepts allow for investigating tensions between individual and social risk management which become important for how The 100 rethinks traditional forms of SF frontier risk management. The 100 stages the Ground as an unknowable environment. In contrast to the risks of the Ark which can partially be responded to by recourse to what is known, the 100 face risks under the condition of ­non-knowledge as all knowledge which the 100 have been provided with turns out to be unreliable (“Earth Skills”). The series presents risk management as an uncertain practice which mirrors the uncertainties of Earth. The 100 therefore rejects ­straight-forward approaches to risk management in SF frontier fiction in which frontier heroes are often represented as ideal risk managers who draw on “practical wisdom” (Den Uyl 39), i.e., past experiences of risks, in order to successfully manage risks. The emphasis on uncertainty and the impossibility for the 100 to draw on previous knowledge challenges the notion that risks are essentially knowable (as frontier fiction often suggests).

212 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio The series acknowledges the complexity of contemporary riskscapes by staging Earth as an environment in which various risks overlap and interact with each other. The 100 reflects on the fact that riskscapes today are marked by a “manufactured, ­self-inflicted insecurity” (Beck, World at Risk 8). Earth offers a variety of potentially catastrophic dangers. A primary concern for the survivors is the residual radiation which threatens their health and has caused mutations in animals.17 The forest brings together different risks—attacks by animals, the unknowable side effects of plants, acid fog (“Earth Kills”), and the possibility of Grounder attacks (“We Are Grounders”). Most risks constitute the result of either deliberate technological interventions in Earth’s ecosystems or their side effects; i.e., they do not lie within the physical environment. This counters a trend in SF frontier fiction where alien planets often function as places “where earthly habits need to be forgotten fast, and the principles of new ecologies quickly understood—or else the […] planet strikes out to kill” (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 13). In contrast to the risk management by the council on the Ark, the series represents risk management on the Ground as individualistic. The 100 employs a speculative variant of Ulrich Beck’s “tragic individualization” (“Living in the World Risk Society” 336). Due to the failure of political, private, and scientific institutions to manage the global risks which they have manufactured, “people are thrown back onto themselves, they are alienated from expert systems but have nothing else instead” (336). In The 100, the former prisoners are alienated from the experts on the Ark not because of their failure to manage risk but due to personal conflicts and technical difficulties. Therefore, the settlers need to rely on themselves for managing risks. This alienation from authorities and recourse to individual risk management resembles traditional SF frontier fiction. Yet, individualization is not coded as purely positive and empowering, as would be the case for the frontier hero/heroine: It presents new opportunities for characters but also limits their ability to manage risks successfully. This ambiguity recasts “tragic individualization” as having both positive and negative effects. In a sense, risk management on the Ground by Bellamy and Clarke resembles the dualism between Kane and Abby on the Ark. Clarke possesses a medical training and Bellamy has served as a security guard on the Ark (“Pilot,” “His Sister’s Keeper”). Both rely on “intuitive and experiential thinking, guided by emotional and affective responses” (Slovic xxxi). Bellamy draws on affect/emotion and experiential experiences rather than on rational/analytic calculations. This approach is framed as problematic as Bellamy increases risks by his egoistic and emotional behavior: He convinces others to remove their wristbands,



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severing contact with the Ark; he seeks to establish an anarchical society based on his worldview (“Pilot”); and destroys the radio in order not to be arrested for shooting Jaha (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming”). His decisions are shaped by a ­one-dimensional focus on Earth as he only takes into account the 100 and the space they occupy. In contrast, Clarke’s risk assessment and management resembles the one of her mother. Clarke complements affective/emotional thinking with the conviction that risk situations need to also be addressed from a rational/analytic point of view: She meticulously plans the journey to Mount Weather via maps (“Pilot”) and applies her medical knowledge to save lives. Clarke’s approach emphasizes the necessity to communicate with the Ark in order to manage both the risks of Earth and of the Ark, e.g., preventing the culling by telling the Ark that a return to the Ground is possible (“His Sister’s Keeper”). These similar approaches ironically undermine Othering between the 100 and the Ark: While both groups differ in terms of political organization, their management of risks emphasizes a similarity between both groups. Despite these parallels, risk management on the Ground differs in terms of how risk taking becomes important for managing risks. Whereas risk management decisions are debated by the council on the Ark, the risks on Earth require immediate responses involving individual risk taking. Risk taking denotes a conscious action and the choice to take risks in order to gain something (Zinn 346). Both Bellamy and Clarke engage in “edgework,” a form of voluntary risk taking which involves the “encounter with a particular edge or boundary condition” such as life and death (Lyng 111). This confrontation demands work through one’s skills and capabilities to master and manage the risk taken (111). Bellamy leads a rescue team into Grounder territory to save his sister (“His Sister’s Keeper”), and takes up hunting in “Earth Kills” in order to feed the camp.18 Edgework fosters a “sense of omnipotence and control” in individuals (Lyng 118). Bellamy’s risk taking not only exemplifies his adolescent drive to prove himself to others but is represented as a means for acquiring a leadership position. As Zinn notes, “risk taking is often not only experienced as personal preference or cultural difference, but it also directly enforces power inequalities” (351, italics in original). The 100 presents this as a problem: Bellamy’s risk taking shapes the social hierarchy of the 100 and how they assess risk. Cautious and rational approaches are dismissed as they appear to be “weak” solutions in contrast to Bellamy’s “strong” solutions. Therefore, The 100 refrains from representing risk taking as a singularly positive activity— as is often the case in SF frontier fiction—and instead highlights that it can also become a threat to society.

214 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Clarke also engages in edgework: She searches for Mount Weather and a supply shelter despite the threat of Grounder attacks (“Pilot,” “Day Trip”); acquires riverweed although this involves entering the river with the eel (“Earth Kills”); and negotiates with Grounder representatives despite previous violent encounters (“Unity Day”). In contrast to Bellamy, the series presents her edgework as serving the good of the community rather than personal gains. This differs from conceptualizations of edgework as an activity that liberates humans from “the constraining influences of reflective consciousness and the social self” (Lyng 132) in modern societies. Clarke’s approach emphasizes that only social risk taking ensures the survival of the 100 on Earth. While these two versions of edgework structure risk management on the Ground, the narrative arc of Season 1 gradually replaces individualistic risk management with communal risk management. Several episodes demonstrate that risk management cannot be successful if individuals take risk for personal gain: Bellamy’s egoistic risk taking threatens the 100 and selfish individualism endangers the survival of the group (e.g., Charlotte’s killing of Wells in “Earth Kills”; the hanging of Murphy in “Murphy’s Law”; and Murphy’s torture of Bellamy in “We Are Grounders, Part 1”). Due to the uncertainty which defines Earth, the only viable option for the 100 becomes what Renn and Klinke call “participative processing” (16). This concept holds that a wide range of different actors must negotiate perceptions, conceptions and ways of risk management with each other in order to successfully manage risks (Renn and Klinke 16). Clarke and Bellamy realize that risk management should involve the 100 as a community and should not be determined by an edgeworking leader (“Murphy’s Law,” “Day Trip,” “We Are Grounders, Part 1,” “We Are Grounders, Part 2”). As such, the series leaves behind the individualistic risk management of frontier heroes/heroines and advocates for participative processing as the appropriate means to engage with risks in the age of the world risk society. This turn toward participative risk management also emphasizes the positive power of risk. As Arnoldi suggests, risks “may create new cosmopolitan communities, bound together by a shared sense of fate, or more specifically a shared burden of future risks” (“Global Risk” 279). Arnoldi problematically downplays the agency of such a community by suggesting that it is the involuntary result of an external force (“fate”). Still, his argument is valuable for reading the 100 as a new risk community which is attuned to the fact that risks entail a “social boomerang effect” (Beck, Risk Society 37, italics in original): The ­post-apocalyptic Earth—not unlike Earth in the world risk society—has become “an ejector seat that no longer recognizes any distinctions between rich and



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poor, black and white, north and south or east or west” (38). The risks of Earth are ambiguous—they present negative, potentially lethal dangers but are also a “shared burden” which creates a positive social community out of previously antagonistic, ­self-centered individuals.

Human/­Non-Human Uncertainties and Social Dimensions of Risks While the series contrasts the Ark and the Ground, both riskscapes reshape frontier spaces. The series presents riskscapes as sites of uncertainty and unpredictability due to the interplay of the human and the non-human/technological. This sets The 100 apart from SF frontier fiction and from Terra Nova and Defiance where risks are either located within technologies or within the use of technologies. The Ark questions SF frontier assumptions of human controllability/mastery over technology by representing the technological ecosystem as the uncertain, unpredictable product of the interplay between the human and the non-human; i.e., risks emerge from the interactive complexity and tight coupling between the human and the technological. The Ground counters SF frontier assumptions about risks being inherent in the natural environment, i.e., as standing apart from the human (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 13). The 100 uncovers how purportedly “natural” risks are of human origin (e.g., of nuclear technology). This fusion highlights how the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Ground is rooted in the interplay between human technologies and a ­non-human environment. It offers a critical perspective on the integration of humans and technoscience in the world risk society which complements the critiques of capitalist ­world-making in Terra Nova and of terraforming in Defiance. The 100 breaks with conventions of individualist risk management in SF frontier fiction as it interrogates the relationship between risk perceptions, perceptions of spaces, and risk management. The series engages with the tensions between the individual and the social which inform risk management. Risk management is presented as a complex spatiotemporal enterprise that goes beyond the instinctual actions/ practical ingenuity of the SF frontier hero. The 100 also departs from the SF frontier “solution” of colonizing outer space in order to escape from risks in favor of engaging with the risks on the Ark and Earth directly. The emphasis on different approaches to risk by various characters (the analytic/rational approach by Kane, the scientific/affective approach by Abby, the edgework approaches by Bellamy and Clarke) does not just present risk management as a contested perspectival issue: The 100

216 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio reframes risk management as a complex evolving process which has to take into account different spaces and their interconnectivity (the Ark and the Ground), different temporal scales (a ­short-term response to risks on the Ark and a ­long-term response to the risks on Earth), and factors such as laws, ethics, worldviews, affect, emotions, science, and situational conditions. At the same time, the series demonstrates the inadequacy of individualistic risk management as the shared burden of risks necessitates cooperation and brings into being a risk community. The 100 therefore problematizes the construction of social spaces through uncertainty and risk. Unpredictability and the lack of knowledge mark the Ark as a technological ecosystem and the riskscapes of Earth. They also inflect risk management processes. As such, The 100 departs from SF frontier narratives which often explore “the tension between individual freedom or even heroism and the necessity for cooperation” (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 34–35). The riskscapes of the Ark and Earth go beyond this as they negotiate different perceptions of risks and spaces, ways of risk management, and the formation of a risk community. The ­neo-frontier spaces of The 100 therefore reshape risk management as a contested social endeavor rather than a straightforward individualistic process.

Utopia/Dystopia as Political Choices and the Pitfalls of Social Dreaming While Terra Nova and Defiance present one specific utopian space (a colony, a frontier city), The 100 juxtaposes two utopian ­neo-frontier spaces—the Ark and the Ground. These other series reshape the role of utopia/dystopia on the level of space (as coexisting utopian/dystopian patchwork spaces in Defiance) and time (utopia and dystopia as temporal stages in Terra Nova). The 100 instead reshapes traditional forms of the SF frontier utopia/frontier dystopia by problematizing how frontier spaces are determined as utopian by political and social choices.

The Ark as Utopia/Dystopia: Constructions of Utopian Spaces and Dystopian Biopolitics Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 all engage with the frontier utopia but The 100 explicitly addresses political ­place-making. It interrogates the interplay between social dreaming, the governance of populations, and political ways of managing social spaces. My reading draws on biopolitics for studying the structures of political place-making that define



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the Ark. Biopolitics originated with Michel Foucault. He identified a new form of politics in Western societies that came into being in the eighteenth to nineteenth century (Foucault, “Right of Death and Power over Life” 44; 45–46). Biopolitics shift away from the right of rulers to “take life and let [their citizens] live” (43, italics in original) toward “a power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death” (43, italics in original). Due to this shift, life became an object of political governance: Biopolitics concerns itself with managing the biological lives of the population through various regulatory mechanisms (44). This chapter focuses on two aspects: First, on the role a state of exception plays in the biopolitical management of populations and in structuring spaces as studied by Giorgio Agamben (15–16, 166–180). Second, on necropolitics—a variant of biopolitics that focuses on the “power of death” rather than a power to promote life and which came into being in the twentieth century (Mbembe 39). This power often expresses itself in political ventures that code populations as disposable, i.e., as “destined” to die (26–27; 40). A state of exception and necropolitics become important for reading The 100 as biopolitical relations shape the construction of utopian and dystopian spaces in the series. Similarly to Terra Nova and Defiance, the Ark brings together social dreaming with a frontier utopia. Frontier utopias often focus on a “desire for community and human solidarity in a world of anomie, fragmentation, and alienation” (Katerberg 12). The construction of the Ark is coded as the result of social dreaming in The 100, motivated by a typical “desire for a better way of living” (Levitas 9). This becomes explicit in how the series narrates the origin of the Ark: Long ago when the Earth was on fire, twelve stations floated through space. All alone. Then, one day, Mir floated by Shenzhen and they realized life would be better together. The other stations saw this and they wanted to be together, too. When all the stations were joined, they called themselves [the Ark] [“Unity Day”].

The reason for constructing the Ark is not framed as a cosmopolitan decision on how to manage nuclear catastrophe but it rests on the desire for a better, improved life as a single community. This idealized utopian narrative hinges on the (purported) fact of a shared vision by the inhabitants of all stations. This framing is problematic as it ignores that the creation of utopias also involves significant political interventions in people’s lives (Moylan 144) and that utopias often contain a dystopian kernel (Sargent 9; Moylan 133; Gordin, Tilley and Prakash 1). It suggests that this utopian wish was unanimous but the series disproves this “perfect” history as only the destruction of the 13th station led to unification

218 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio (“Unity Day”). This clash between history and social dreaming presents the Ark as a heterogeneous ­neo-frontier space whose present and past have been and continue to be marked by inextricably linked utopian and dystopian elements. The 100 also counters this universalized utopian narrative by juxtaposing representations of the Ark as both a utopia and dystopia. While the foundational narrative establishes all inhabitants as equal, the realization of the Ark as a utopia rests with the council. All political decisions are geared toward ensuring that humanity survives—a goal tied to conceptualizing the Ark as a frontier utopia (“Pilot”).19 The series, however, refrains from representing utopia from the ­one-sided perspective of the council as it challenges notions of a universal frontier utopia through a clash of representations. The council’s utopian political visions conflict with how the Ark is perceived and experienced by citizens, e.g., by Clarke and Sydney who both uncover dystopian aspects of living on the Ark. In addition, the series stages social dreaming as a problematic form of political ­place-making. The work of the council is marked by one of the pitfalls of utopian thinking, the “obsessive search for a simple, a ­single-shot solution to all our ills” (Jameson 11). This revolves around the necessity to create a perfect society which follows a fixed blueprint, a process critiqued by Lyman Tower Sargent (9, 21–25) and Gregory Claeys (Dystopia 5–8). The imperfection of the political, social, and cultural spaces on the Ark is in fact acknowledged by the council but is concealed through how political and spiritual leaders perpetuate the vision of an alternative utopian space (Earth). The belief in Earth as a “home” to be returned to, a “dream” to be pursued, is problematic: First, it repeats the same logic in presenting Earth as a mythical paradise in which all current problems will be resolved. Second, the dream channels utopian thinking toward Earth while shifting the focus away from the Ark. As Vera Kane notes in her sermon: “We endure because we have faith […] that one day, generations from now, our people will return to the Ground” (“Murphy’s Law”). In Marxist theory, the promise of an Edenic future functions as “opium for the people” that glosses over the need for reforms in the present (Pack 161). The dream of returning to Earth functions in a similar manner: The political/social order on the Ark remains unchallenged as impulses for utopian reform are channeled “elsewhere.”20 Utopian dreaming in The 100 functions not as a process of social improvement but as a means for biopolitical governance that conserves the Ark’s political power system. In contrast to the utopian visions perpetuated by the council, the lived spaces of the Ark can be read in terms of the political dystopia.



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The realization of political utopias often entails biopolitical measures geared toward “relentless transparency, the repression of variety, and the curtailment of privacy” (Claeys, Dystopia, 6). Not unlike the panoptic system in Terra Nova, The 100 represents the Ark in line with a post–9/11 world in which surveillance is “continuous, general, routine, systematic, impersonal and ubiquitous” (Lyon 2). In panoptic systems, the citizen “is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication” (Foucault, Discipline and Punish 200). A panoptic gaze is directed at the Ark citizens in order to control them, a measure that reinforces the power of the ruling class. Whereas surveillance in Terra Nova becomes a recurring concern, it is only briefly reflected upon in The 100: In “Murphy’s Law,” it becomes clear that Kane has monitored Abby Griffin’s whereabouts. The Vice Chancellor admits that he is “tracking everybody” aboard the Ark. The dialogue here frames surveillance as the act of a suspicious individual rather than as a systematic condition but the possibility for tracking individuals hints at a ­quasi-totalitarian power in the hands of the council—which is problematic in conjunction with its ability to manage human lives through the Penal Code. Council members can exploit surveillance to detect signs of ­non-conformity to the Penal Code and use this to eliminate political competitors. In contrast to Firefly and Terra Nova, the series refrains from legitimizing surveillance as a necessity against internal or external enemies. Instead, surveillance is presented as a dystopian means for political ­self-empowerment by individuals. While politicians emphasize the ­utopian-ness of the democratic system of the Ark (the council is elected on a regular basis), the political system in fact disallows for any formation of a communal utopian space due to biopolitical subjection. In biopolitics, the lives of populations are governed by political governments which reserve the right to decide about “who may live and who must die” (Mbembe 11). This right turns populations into “object[s] of knowledge and power” (Campbell and Sitze 10). The council manages the population through the Penal Code and by making ­l ife-and-death decisions without consulting with or informing the public. The citizens do not constitute participative agents but are caught in power relations which deny them agency. Although Penal Code One is meant to reduce crime, it controls the population, turning the Ark into an “unpredictable and inhospitable place to live [in]” (Mert and Firestone 159). The dystopian impact of the Penal Code lies in its scope and applicability: The 100 presents it as a totalizing legal system which codes all inhabitants as potential criminals—a notion that runs counter to the vision of a utopian society. The Code is not attuned to specific cases but follows the dictum that “all

220 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio crimes are capital crimes” (“Pilot”). This legal framework sets the same punishment (floating) for transgressions as diverse as mutiny (Jake Griffin, Clarke), producing drugs (Monty), taking an unauthorized spacewalk (Finn), and violation of the population laws (“Pilot”). The Penal Code counteracts its own logic: Instead of safeguarding citizens from dystopian conditions, it establishes dystopian spaces of oppression as it polices human actions, behavior, and ideologies and prevents the construction of alternative spaces. In addition, the representation of ­l ife-and-death decisions by the council relies on a “state of exception.” A state of exception refers to a temporary emergency situation which requires a provisional suspension of the law through politics as a means to restore order (Agamben 169). The NS regime turned the state of exception into a lasting spatial formation (the concentration camp) which existed outside the very legal order of the state (Agamben 15–19; 175). This problematic position outside the law allowed for the regime to reduce populations to a state of “bare life” as certain individuals lost their political status/rights and agency ­vis-à-vis the government (Agamben 170–171). The same logic underpins the Ark. Political decisions gain validity through assuming a permanent state of exception which is used to legitimize interventions into the public’s life—rationing food and medicine (“Pilot”), imposing birth control laws (“His Sister’s Keeper”), determining who is expendable and letting some citizens die in order to ensure the survival of others (“Twilight’s Last Gleaming”), and punishing crimes by floating (“Pilot”). On the one hand, the Ark is marked by a state of emergency (e.g., technological failures). This requires for political decisions to be made quickly in response to catastrophic events and the council needs to intervene to ensure survival. On the other hand, these decisions enable a turn toward necropolitics and coding the population in terms of “bare life” rather than as democratic citizens. A state of bare life often turns humans into a mere figure (Agamben 171). In The 100, the citizens are reduced to statistical numbers (population numbers and population limits, the number of people who need to be sacrificed). These interventions transform the Ark into a dystopian collectivist community marked by a “destructive annihilation of individuality” (Claeys, Dystopia 49). The 100 ultimately questions biopolitics itself: While the system of governance on the Ark aims to realize utopia, the political and legal measures meant to ensure it construct dystopian spaces.21 This state of indeterminacy departs from SF frontier fiction which favors representing either a frontier utopia (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 5) or a frontier dystopia (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 171–176; Katerberg 213f).



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Earth as Utopia/Dystopia: Utopian Spaces on the Ground While biopolitical relations shape the Ark, the representation of the Ground allows for an interrogation of how The 100 engages with and critiques SF frontier mythical ­space-making. The Ground interrogates the interplay between social dreaming and colonial ­place-making through a tension between the individual and the social. In order to examine this relationship, I draw on the concept of “the group.” My approach follows Gregory Claeys who discusses the formation of groups as a foundational structure of dystopia (Dystopia 18). Groups do not merely constitute an assemblage of individuals (Dystopia 18). They function as a social space, bringing together and shaping individual and social identities (34). The notion of Gemeinschaft (community) becomes important: The individual Self finds itself in “basic unity with others” (34) and hence the “I” submits to the larger purpose, values, and ideologies of the “We” of the group (34). The 100 not only presents different ways of conceptualizing groups as utopian on the Ground but also uses the relationship between “I” and “We” to negotiate utopian ­place-making with dystopian frontier individualism. As argued, the Ark brings together utopian thinking and lived dystopian practices. A similar tension structures the Ground. The 100 code Earth as a frontier utopia. This aligns with nuclear apocalypse narratives since the 1950s. According to Patrick B. Sharp, these narratives focus on a shift from the global to the local: Interconnected global spaces are destroyed, with the nuclear catastrophe enabling a “starting over” in local spaces (151–155). This “starting over” is often tied to establishing a small utopian community which embraces a rural lifestyle (155)—a trope which is indebted to the frontier myth. ­Post-nuclear frontier utopias also hold the promise of a historical caesura as “frontier conditions […] erase the problems of the past and make a better future possible” (Katerberg 5). The 100 departs from this. Clarke emphasizes that the Ground allows for alternative ways of living: In “Earth Kills,” she avers that Earth constitutes a “second chance” for the 100 as all lives matter in contrast to statistical distributions of who may live and who must die (“Earth Kills”). She advocates for a participatory democracy; i.e., decisions are to be made by the community as a whole (“Murphy’s Law”). In The 100, “starting over” does not entail forgetting or erasing the past but it is presented as the process of constructing a better society which has learned from the (dystopian) mistakes of the past. The Ground ­re-historicizes frontier spaces (not unlike in Defiance) by presenting them as a continuation and response to the past rather than assuming that history can be “started over.”

222 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio In contrast to the Ark, the Ground is not fitted into one dominant frontier utopia. The 100 juxtaposes different visions that are constantly negotiated with each other. Bellamy and his followers also code Earth as utopian but their vision differs from Clarke’s. As Bellamy explains: My people already are down. Those people [on the Ark] locked my people up. Those people killed my mother for the crime of having a second child. […] Here, there are no laws. […] Here, we do whatever the hell we want whenever the hell we want [“Pilot”].

Bellamy’s construction of utopia can be read in terms of the “epic dystopia” (Moylan 157). This narrative acknowledges the existence of dystopian systems but elicits a response by rebels who construct a “site for an alternative position in some enclave or other marker of difference” (157). Bellamy defines Earth—similarly to Clarke—as an opposite to the biopolitical mechanisms of the Ark. Yet, he posits an alternative to Clarke’s utopia by setting up a “whatever the hell we want” philosophy. This principle of social organization draws on both utopian notions of the liberation of the Self within groups and the ­self-reliant rugged individualism of the frontier myth. The series therefore juxtaposes two coexisting versions of utopia which negotiate the relationship between social dreaming and individualism differently as they create new identities for the group. The formation of group identities creates a new utopian social space but also participates in the frontier mythical narrative of “regeneration through violence” (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5). As sociologist Norbert Elias and anthropologist Lucien ­L évy-Bruhl argue, the formation of groups allows for individuals to forge new identities through their solidarity to the group and its values (Claeys, Dystopia 35). This process frames the 100 as an intentional community in which individuals are tied together by “shared values or for some other mutually agreed purpose” (Sargent 15, italics added).22 Yet, while the “whatever the hell we want” doctrine unites the group, it is presented as fostering ­a nti-social individualism. The series draws attention to the incongruity of social dreaming and frontier individualism: While the “whatever the hell we want” utopia rejects the violence of the Ark, it fosters forms of individualism that validate dystopian redemptive violence as a means for social organization: Murphy injures Wells due to personal dislike (“Pilot”), Charlotte excises her “demons” by murdering Wells (“Earth Kills”), Murphy is hanged for a crime he did not commit (“Murphy’s Law”), and Grounder Lincoln is tortured by Bellamy (“Contents Under Pressure”). Ironically, the mob that hangs Murphy refers to the hanging as “floating”—a practice originating from the very system



5. On the Brink223

that the 100 purportedly reject. As such, the Ground demonstrates parallels with the Ark in that a common utopian goal ­co-exists alongside violent dystopian practices. The 100 juxtaposes social dreaming and dystopian lived spaces both on the Ark and the Ground which seems to frame the series as an ­a nti-utopia. In ­a nti-utopian narratives, spaces are considered to be static; utopian hope is denied, and the creation of a truly utopian space remains an impossibility or illusion (Moylan 125–142). Still, The 100 retains hope as the teenagers begin to cooperate (“We Are Grounders, Part 2”). They eventually seek to reform the “whatever the hell we want” doctrine (“Murphy’s Law,” “We Are Grounders, Part 2”) by adopting a more participatory democratic system. The series’ constant construction, destruction, and reconstruction of utopian/dystopian spaces reshapes SF frontier spaces through openness, changeability, and the heterogeneity of social spaces. Ultimately, The 100 shifts away from presenting spaces as either utopian or dystopian, resonating with Sargent’s observation that “whether life gets better or worse depends on the choices made by people exercising their freedom” (26).

Making Spaces through Utopian and Dystopian Choices The construction of the Ark and the Ground reshapes utopia and dystopia as political and social choices in ­place-making rather than coexisting spaces (Defiance) or temporal stages (Terra Nova). Visions of a better way of life underpin both the Ark and the Ground which is set apart through Clarke’s vision of a pluralistic democratic society and Bellamy’s “whatever the hell we want” doctrine. The 100 questions the interplay between social dreaming, politics, and the SF frontier. The series contrasts the dream of a better society with individuals and groups choosing dystopian forms of political and social organization (surveillance, floating, the right to “make live and let die” on the Ark; frontier individualism and regenerative violence on the Ground). The 100 therefore highlights the ­co-presence of utopian visions and dystopian decisions. It reflects on SF frontier ­place-making which complements similar critiques in Terra Nova and Defiance. While Terra Nova interrogates the role of utopian frontier heroes and Defiance questions colonial utopian narratives, The 100 challenges the very process of social dreaming in SF frontier fiction. Recent SF frontier utopias have been read as challenging social dreaming through the ongoing presence of burdens of the past (Katerberg 5–7) and through highlighting political differences in how to realize utopias (Abbott, Frontiers Past and

224 ­Neo-Frontier Spaces in Science Fiction Televisio Future 127ff). The 100 critiques social dreaming in a different manner: It interrogates the very negotiation of the individual and the social which shape utopian and frontier mythical ­place-making. The series interrogates the role of biopolitics in constructing utopian/dystopian spaces (the Ark) and critiques the interplay between frontier individualism and social dreaming (the Ground). Dreams of a frontier utopia and actions to realize it are presented not as an improvement but as establishing dystopian lived systems: Utopia enables dystopian systems and power hierarchies on the Ark and utopias on the Ground resurrect dystopian elements (frontier violence, floating) from the very place that is rejected by the 100. In The 100, choices—in terms of (bio)politics, social systems, and individual actions—determine the ­utopian-ness/­dystopian-ness of spaces rather than forces of history or political struggle.

Conclusion ­Neo-Frontier Spaces and American Culture in the ­Twenty-First Century ­Neo-frontier spaces in SF television open up new ways of thinking about colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes and utopian/ dystopian spaces in American popular culture. They do not constitute a new type of frontier space that can be used to canonize works (as is the case with the SF frontier and the ­sub-genre of SF frontier fiction). Instead, ­neo-frontier spaces constitute a new way of speculative thinking about how spaces are constructed. They become useful for reading American popular culture due to (1) their critical potential to reflect on the mythical underpinnings of the SF frontier in contemporary fiction, and (2) their cultural timeliness in the third decade of the ­t wenty-first century. ­Neo-frontier spaces occupy a productive ­i n-between position: On the one hand, they reflect on and rework the SF frontier: Series such as Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100 engage with but also move beyond the frontier myth through how they construct spaces, through problematizing cultural binaries (Self/Other, human/­non-human, wilderness/civilization, nature/city, local/global, and utopia/dystopia), through new forms of narratives, and through a ­self-reflective perspective on the settler past of the United States and on mythical ideologies (e.g., “starting over” and the American Dream). All series engage with specific elements of the SF frontier myth in their representation of spaces: Spaces are tied to an imagined “starting over,” and a frequent turn to local agriculture evokes the “farmer’s frontier.” Environmental spaces are framed as sites of danger and a testing ground, characters are constructed as frontier heroes, and racial/social Othering evokes representations of Native Americans in the Western (the Reavers in Firefly, the Sixers in Terra Nova, the Irathient Spirit Riders in Defiance, and the Grounder tribes in The 100). Yet, ­neo-frontier spaces do not merely replicate SF 225

226 Conclusion frontier spaces. Instead, they draw on these elements in order to question and rework them. These new spaces are marked by the construction of Thirdspaces, shared environmental dwelling places between the human and the ­non-human, radically uncertain but also generative riskscapes, and new forms of utopian/dystopian spaces which interrogate the role of utopia/dystopia/­a nti-utopia in ­place-making in fiction. On the other hand, this reworking of frontier spaces does not remain limited to a ­re-examination of the past—be it of the historical frontier or the frontier myth in the Western and SF. ­Neo-frontier spaces address cultural problems of the present: The construction of ­neo-frontier spaces across colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces critiques specific modes of space-making in the ­t wenty-first century, especially considering the continuing importance of colonial ways of thinking about space that persist until today. ­Neo-frontier spaces problematize the process of imagining, conceiving, and living in space through binaries such as Self/Other, inside/ outside, mobility/fixity, permanence/temporariness, striated space/ smooth space and “starting over” as a complete break from the past. These binaries and ideologies are questioned and reshaped through relationality (Star Trek, Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, The 100); transgressivity (Firefly, Terra Nova); a renewed sense of historicity as a part of the present (Defiance); rhythmicity and the ­i nterwoven-ness of people, spaces, and cultures (Defiance); and a cognitively estranged critique of the ongoing reliance on practices of Othering, racism, and frontier violence in the purportedly postcolonial present (Defiance, The 100). Each of these ­re-workings critiques and departs from the mythical notion of space as something homogeneous, fixed, and internally unified. ­Neo-frontier spaces are complex constructs which are constantly made and remade through imagined and lived practices—movements and interactions between people/groups/cultures, new understandings of history, and settler colonial legacies of Othering and violent racism in how spaces are constructed and coded today. The ­neo-frontier spaces in these series implicitly question the ongoing presence of colonial border-thinking and Othering in popular culture and the real world in the ­t wenty-first century and posit alternative ways of conceptualizing spaces. This rethinking extends into an environmental realm as all series engage with the mythical wilderness/civilization dualism which conceptualizes ­non-human spaces and human spaces as distinct and separated. While all series draw on this distinction in terms of how spaces



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are imagined, the representation of lived spaces draws on an ecological understanding of the relationship between the human and the nonhuman in the ­t wenty-first century. These series transcend the wilderness/civilization binary in manifold ways: They redefine place as an interactional product between the human and the ­non-human (Terra Nova); ­re-conceptualize relationships between the human and nonhuman in terms of sustainability and interdependence (Terra Nova, Defiance); rethink wilderness/wastelands as sites of multiplicity (Defiance); shift from colonial belonging to an ecosystemic belonging (Defiance); and explore new ways of thinking about nature by harnessing transcendentalism, the beautiful, the grotesque, and the sublime for ecological ends, and construct a technological ecosystem (The 100). Neo-frontier spaces, hence, posit ecological alternatives to current practices of dwelling on Earth which enable an ongoing coexistence of the human and the ­non-human in contrast to contemporary capitalist/ industrialist ways of living in the Anthropocene. Risk constitutes an important factor for ­neo-frontier spaces. All series engage with global catastrophic risks in the ­t wenty-first century— climate change in Terra Nova; terraforming and geoengineering in Firefly and Defiance; and ­techno-scientific risks in The 100. The ­neo-frontier spaces in each series utilize ­post-apocalyptic imagination and formal means (e.g., a clutter aesthetic, slum imagery) to represent extrapolated future Earths—a polluted “Brown Planet” in crisis in Terra Nova, and post-catastrophic Earths transformed by terraforming in Defiance and a nuclear winter in The 100. The ­neo-frontier riskscapes in these series interrogate the interplay between risks and ­space-making: They blur fictional and ­non-fictional risk imagery (Terra Nova), and create new forms of unpredictable risks (fusing traditionally distinct types of risks in Defiance; risks that come into being through an ecosystemic integration of human and ­non-human/technological in The 100). They also present risk management as an uncertain process which is inflected by perceptions of risks, perceptions of spaces and time, and racial and cultural ideologies (Defiance, The 100). All riskscapes critique processes of space-making in the ­t wenty-first century that still draw on frontier modes of thinking: Terra Nova challenges capitalist ­world-making (ideologies of economic growth and their impact on political, social, and individual spaces). Defiance interrogates technological ­world-making (e.g., terraforming, geoengineering and, by extension, climate change). The 100 sheds a critical light on the increasing integration of humans and technologies, i.e., on how their unpredictable interplay and interrelations generate new risks. ­Neo-frontier riskscapes, therefore, participate in SF “ ­i f-this-goes-on” critiques of contemporary capitalist

228 Conclusion techno-scientific societies and interrogate the role of risks in shaping local and global spaces of the present. ­Neo-frontier spaces simultaneously address and critique contemporary ways of constructing spaces by utopianism. While all series engage with the SF frontier utopia/frontier dystopia, they interrogate the very construction of spaces as utopian, dystopian, or ­a nti-utopian in the ­t wenty-first century. ­Neo-frontier spaces reshape the role of utopia/dystopia/­a nti-utopia for imagining and living in spaces: They ­re-conceptualize them through patchwork spaces which bring together utopia and dystopia in one colony or city (Terra Nova, Defiance); they rethink utopia and dystopia as relational temporal stages of spaces (Terra Nova); and present utopia/dystopia as political and social choices which determine the construction of spaces (The 100). In all cases, an examination of utopianism through the SF frontier myth enables these series to reveal a clash between imagined utopian spaces and lived dystopian spaces. This clash critiques utopianism as a means for ­place-making. ­Neo-frontier spaces demonstrate how social dreaming conflicts with individualistic dreaming: The realization of utopias is shattered by the pursuit of political power (Terra Nova, The 100), called into question by biopolitical means of control and surveillance (Firefly, Terra Nova, The 100), undermined by ­exploitation-oriented capitalism (Star Trek, Defiance), and/or thwarted by inadvertent replications of the very dystopian systems that are purportedly rejected by the utopian community (Terra Nova, The 100). ­Neo-frontier spaces therefore refrain from representing utopia/dystopia/­a nti-utopia as separable spaces or mere codings of spaces. Rather, they acknowledge the complexity of place-making in the ­t wenty-first century by calling attention to how the ­utopian-ness or ­dystopian-ness of a space is determined by complex negotiations between the social and the individual, ideologies, (bio)politics, power structures, temporalities, and spatialities. *  *  * The construction of ­n eo-frontier spaces is based on a global catastrophe or crisis that brings about a new world—the exhaustion of resources and overpopulation in Firefly, the climate change crisis in Terra Nova, the Pale Wars and Votan terraforming in Defiance, and the nuclear holocaust in The 100. This indicates that the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces depends on ­post-apocalyptic imagination. This interdependency is based on a similar approach to ­world-building: Both ­neo-frontier spaces and ­post-apocalyptic worlds negotiate a space in-between the old and the new. ­Post-apocalyptic ­world-building negotiates ­pre-catastrophic worlds and ­p ost-apocalyptic worlds (Berger 7,



Conclusion229

Doyle 101). ­Neo-frontier spaces similarly negotiate mythical frontier spaces with new forms of frontier spaces. The ­post-apocalyptic is often about “ruins and remnants not just of previous civilizations, but of those civilizations myths” (Machat 64, italics in original), a concern shared by ­neo-frontier spaces. The ­p ost-apocalyptic imagination therefore enriches and enables the reshaping of frontier spaces in contemporary SF television. ­Vice-versa, television series that employ ­post-apocalyptic scenarios constitute fertile ground for further studies of ­neo-frontier spaces. The television series examined in this study present unique cases in that they explicitly construct ­post-apocalyptic settler colonial spaces which engage with and depart from SF frontier spaces. This element is either absent or limited in other ­post-apocalyptic series which, e.g., might rethink Othering without establishing new forms of colonial spaces. Nevertheless, a ­neo-frontier-spaces approach proves useful for reading ­p ost-apocalyptic television series in which colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes and utopian/dystopian spaces are reshaped by a catastrophe which is connected to technological global risks. Examples include the construction of ­p ost-apocalyptic worlds as a result of a global “Blackout” of electronic devices through an electromagnetic pulse in Dark Angel (2000–02) and Revolution (2012–14); nuclear terrorist attacks and/or warfare in Jericho (2006–08) and The Shannara Chronicles (2016–17); and environmental pollution/climate change in Incorporated (2016–17) and The Handmaid’s Tale (2017–present). ­Neo-frontier space readings could also shed a new light on “outbreak narrative” television series whose ­p ost-apocalyptic worlds are marked by an ongoing crisis due to a global pandemic, e.g., The Walking Dead (2010–present), Fear the Walking Dead (2015–present), Z Nation (2014–18), The Last Ship (2014–18), Containment (2016) and The Strain (2014–17). A ­neo-frontier-approach could also provide a fresh perspective on television series that employ alien invasion scenarios. Similarly to Defiance, series such as Falling Skies (2011–15), Invasion (2005–06), V (2009–11), and Colony (2016–18) reshape cities by negotiating spaces of the Self/Other and the human/­non-human, new riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian ­place-making in ways that warrant a ­neo-frontier space reading. Lastly, a ­neo-frontier approach could also enrich studies of space opera television series, e.g., of Star Trek: Discovery (2017–present). The original Star Trek series remains tied to frontier mythical paradigms despite reshaping colonial spaces, spaces of risk, and utopian/ dystopian spaces in significant ways. In contrast, Star Trek: Discovery reshapes the “Final Frontier” by presenting outer space in terms of a mycelial network, staging the universe itself as an ecosystem.

230 Conclusion Despite similarities to Star Trek, Firefly, Terra Nova, Defiance, and The 100, I do not mean to suggest that these other series construct neofrontier spaces in a manner that is analogous to the conclusions drawn here. Many of these other series bring together colonial spaces, environmental spaces, riskscapes, and utopian/dystopian spaces but most of them do not construct local settler colonial spaces. Many also remain only loosely tied to the SF frontier myth, e.g., in terms of employing binaries such as Self/Other, wilderness/civilization, city/wasteland. Moreover, the nature of the catastrophes which they envision also remakes spaces in a different manner: For instance, outbreak narrative series such as The Walking Dead, Z Nation, The Last Ship, and The Strain reshape spaces via the logics of contagion, infection and viral risk, an approach which differs from the ­neo-colonial, ecological, and utopian/dystopian ­world-building discussed in this study.1 Yet, this is exactly where the usefulness of a ­neo-frontier-space reading lies: ­Neo-frontier spaces constitute speculative ways of reshaping and rethinking multiple types of spaces in American popular culture. This turns them into a productive framework for reading spaces beyond the genre borders of SF frontier fiction. Carl Abbott argues that the major task for SF frontier fiction is “how to adapt and enrich our ­western-national stories for new centuries, how to maintain their virtues while making them more inclusive and careful of people and places” (Frontiers Past and Future 187). 2 The construction of neofrontier spaces in contemporary television is not so much about conserving the values of the SF frontier myth. It is about reshaping spaces through speculation and ­p ost-apocalyptic imagination in ways that reflect on and critique ­t wenty-first-century constructions of local and global spaces and their ­neo-colonial underpinnings. In the end, the construction of ­neo-frontier spaces in contemporary fiction suggests that frontier mythical ways of perceiving, conceiving, and living in space— while still ingrained in popular culture—need to be rethought in an uncertain, heterogeneous world in which spaces are always relational and in process.

Videography Star Trek “The Apple,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 5, NBC, 13 October 1967. “Arena,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 18, NBC, 19 January 1967. “Balance of Terror,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 14, NBC, 15 December 1966. “The Changeling,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 3, NBC, 29 September 1967. “The Cloud Miners,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 3, episode 21, NBC, 28 February 1969. “The Corbomite Maneuver,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 10, NBC, 10 November 1966. “The Deadly Years,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 12, NBC, 8 December 1967. “The Devil in the Dark,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 25, NBC, 9 March 1967. “The Doomsday Machine,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 6, NBC, 20 October 1967. “Errand of Mercy,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 26, NBC, 23 March 1967. “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 3, episode 8, NBC, 8 November 1968. “I, Mudd,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 8, NBC, 3 November 1967. “The Immunity Syndrome,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 18, NBC, 19 January 1968. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 3, episode 15, NBC, 10 January 1969. “The Omega Glory,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 23, NBC, 1 March 1968. “Operation: Annihilate!,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 29, NBC, 13 April 1967. “The Paradise Syndrome,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 3, episode 3, NBC, 4 October 1968. “A Private Little War,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 19, NBC, 2 February 1968. “The Return of the Archons,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 21, NBC, 9 February 1967. “Spectre of the Gun,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 3, episode 6, NBC, 25 October 1968.

231

232 Videography “A Taste of Armaggedon,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 23, NBC, 23 February 1967. “This Side of Paradise,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 24, NBC, 2 March 1967. “The Ultimate Computer,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 2, episode 24, NBC, 8 March 1968. “What Are Little Girls Made Of?,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 7, NBC, 20 October 1966. “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, season 1, episode 3, NBC, 22 September 1966.

Firefly

“Ariel,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 8, Fox, 15 November 2002. “Bushwhacked,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 2, Fox, 27 September 2002. “Heart of Gold,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 12, Fox, 4 August 2003. “Jaynestown,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 4, Fox, 18 October 2002. “The Message,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 14, Fox, 28 July 2003. “Objects in Space,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 14, Fox, 13 December 2002. “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 3, Fox, 4 October 2002. “Out of Gas,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 5, Fox, 25 October 2002. “Safe,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 7, Fox, 8 November 2002. “Serenity,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 11, Fox, 20 December 2002. “Shindig,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 6, Fox, 1 November 2002. “The Train Job,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 1, Fox, 20 September 2002. “Trash,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 13, Fox, 21 July 2003. “War Stories,” Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, season 1, episode 9, Fox, 6 December 2002.

Terra Nova

“Bylaw,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 6, Fox, 31 October 2011. “Genesis,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episodes 1 and 2, Fox, 26 September 2011. “Instinct,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 3, Fox, 3 October 2011. “Nightfall,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 7, Fox, 7 November 2011. “Now You See Me,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 10, Fox, 28 November 2011. “Occupation,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 12, Fox, 19 December 2011. “Proof,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 8, Fox, 14 November 2011. “Resistance,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 13, Fox, 19 December 2011. “The Runaway,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 5, Fox, 17 October 2011.



Videography233

“Vs.,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 9, Fox, 21 November 2011. “What Remains,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 4, Fox, 10 October 2011. “Within,” Terra Nova, created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein, season 1, episode 11, Fox, 12 December 2011.

Defiance “The Bride Wore Black,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 11, Syfy, 24 June 2013. “Brothers in Arms,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 7, Syfy, 20 May 2013. “Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 3, Syfy, 22 April 2013. “Everything Is Broken,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 13, Syfy, 8 July 2013. “Goodbye Blue Sky,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 8, Syfy, 3 June 2013. “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 9, Syfy, 10 June 2013. “If I Ever Leave This World Alive,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 10, Syfy, 17 June 2013. “Past Is Prologue,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 12, Syfy, 1 July 2013. “Pilot,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episodes 1 and 2, Syfy, 15 April 2013. “The Serpent’s Egg,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 6, Syfy, 13 May 2013. “A Well Respected Man,” Defiance, created by Kevin Murphy, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and Michael Taylor, season 1, episode 5, Syfy, 6 May 2013.

The 100 “Anaconda,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 8, The CW, 8 July 2020. “Blood Giant,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 13, The CW, 9 September 2020. “The Calm,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 11, The CW, 28 May 2014. “The Children of Gabriel,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 6, episode 3, The CW, 14 May 2019. “Contents Under Pressure,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 7, The CW, 30 April 2014. “Damocles, Part 2,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 5, episode 13, The CW, 7 August 2018. “Day Trip,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 8, The CW, 7 May 2014. “Die All, Die Merrily,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 4, episode 10, The CW, 3 May 2017. “Earth Kills,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 3, The CW, 2 April 2014. “Earth Skills,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 2, The CW, 26 March 2014.

234 Videography “Etherea,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 11, The CW, 12 August 2020. “The Face Behind the Glass,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 6, episode 4, The CW, 21 May 2019. “False Gods,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 3, The CW, 3 June 2020. “Fog of War,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 2, episode 6, The CW, 3 December 2014. “The Garden,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 2, The CW, 27 May 2020. “The Gospel of Josephine,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 6, episode 5, The CW, 28 May 2019. “His Sister’s Keeper,” Th 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 6, The CW, 23 April 2014. “I Am Become Death,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 10, The CW, 21 May 2014. “The Last War,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 16, The CW, 30 September 2020. “Murphy’s Law,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 4, The CW, 9 April 2014. “Nakara,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 6, The CW, 24 June 2020. “Perverse Instantiation, Part 2,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 3, episode 16, The CW, 19 May 2016. “Pilot,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 1, The CW, 19 March 2014. “Sanctum,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 6, episode 1, The CW, 30 April 2019. “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 5, The CW, 16 April 2014. “Unity Day,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 9, The CW, 14 May 2014. “We Are Grounders, Part 1,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 12, The CW, 4 June 2014. “We Are Grounders, Part 2,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 1, episode 13, The CW, 11 June 2014. “Welcome to Bardo,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 7, episode 5, The CW, 17 June 2020. “Ye Who Enter Here,” The 100, developed by Jason Rothenberg, season 3, episode 3, The CW, 4 February 2016.

Chapter Notes Introduction

purport to revise and reject the Frontier Thesis (166–171). 4.  Many elements of the frontier were already established conventions in seventeenth- to nineteenth-century American fiction. The frontier as a meeting point between savagery and civilization and “frontier heroes” represented central concerns in the American historical novel. This includes both Indian captivity narratives, e.g., Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682), and James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking novels (1820s–1840s) which install their protagonists as frontier heroes/heroines (Le Menager 517– 520, MacNeil 2). 5.  Technological innovation and the belief in technological progress form one of the basic elements in theorizing SF as a genre. Istvan ­C sicsery-Ronay, Jr., emphasizes the importance of the “Technologiade” (7, italics in original), i.e., “the transformation of human societies as a result of innovations attending technoscientific projects” (7). 6.  Televisuality was developed by John Thornton Caldwell. It designates the “growing value of excessive style on primetime network and cable television during the 1980s” (Caldwell 5), including a “display of knowing exhibitionism” (5, italics in original), a shift from narrative-centered classic Holly wood techniques towards ­s tyle-conscious and style-focused programs (6), the development of new production technologies such as digital video and digital imaging (7–8), new programming strategies such as “narrowcasting” (9), the assumption of either a culturally educated or a

1.  This study follows conventions in science fiction studies by abbreviating science fiction as SF. 2.  “­N eo-colonial ” here refers to a new colonial situation on an alternative Earth of the future or past. My usage of the term is distinct from its meaning in postcolonial and settler colonial studies where it denotes “relations that ostensibly acknowledged the equality of former coloniser and former colonised but did not actually affect structuring inequalities” (Veracini, “Introduction” 2), i.e., legacies of colonialism which still shape the contemporary postcolonial world. 3.  The term “­neo-frontier” has been used before in American Studies but in different contexts from the speculative reconceptualization of spaces that I am positing here. Karen R. Jones and John Willis use the term to describe tourist attractions in New Mexico and California as “a fundamentally modern and user-friendly recreational and consumer landscape” (308). This landscape draws on the mythical frontier West by presenting a “pioneer façade” (308) for tourists to explore and immerse themselves in. In contrast, Charles L. Sanford uses the term “­neo-frontier spirit” (Sanford qtd. in Ganser 84) to explain the popularity of road narratives in the twentieth century. A similar term, the “­Neo-Turnerian Frontier” (163), is used by historian Larry F. Kutchen in a review in which he criticizes scholars working in the field of New Western History for problematically retaining the vision of the frontier as a “perfect” democratic space while they

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“trash”-attracted audience for specific programs (9). 7.  “[T]elevisual spectacle” has also been identified as a mode in television programming generally which “asks us to look, to observe closely or to contemplate” (Wheatley 14). Therefore, it entails critical reflection rather than the passive entertainment of the viewer.

Chapter 1 1.  Good examples are Darko Suvin’s Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre (1979), Gary K. Wolfe’s The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction (1979), Mark Rose’s Alien Encounters: Anatomy of Science Fiction (1981) and Carl Malmgren’s Worlds Apart: Narratology of Science Fiction (1991). These studies aimed to define SF as a distinguishable genre by focusing on central genre elements. Suvin defined SF through “cognitive estrangement ” (Suvin 4, italics in original) and the “narrative dominance or hegemony of a fictional ‘novum’ (novelty, innovation) validated by a cognitive logic” (Suvin 63, italics in original) which set it apart from fantasy and realism (4). For Wolfe, the genre could be identified by icons such as the spaceship, city, or wasteland (xiv). Rose defined SF through recurring narrative and forma l pat terns (4). For Malmgren, SF was marked by its “distinctiveness of […] fictional worlds” (6). He sought to establish a typology of SF worlds based on different nova (17–20). All of these studies inadvertently constructed the very genre which they purported to analyze (on this, see John Rieder’s “On Defining SF, or Not: Genre Theory, SF, and History”). 2.  Extrapolation has constituted a major premise for hard SF in the “Golden Age.” Robert Heinlein notes that SF is inextricably bound to scientific knowledge which provides a point of departure for extrapolative visions (8). 3.  The apocalypse in the Bible revolves around the revelation of the “end of the world” through the “Great Tribulation,” the moment in which the ­A nti-Christ appears, followed by the “second Coming

of Christ” and “Armageddon,” and a fight between good and evil which culminates in God ’s “Last Judgement”—the sinners are left behind while the pious are allowed to enter “New Jerusalem” (Rosen xiii–xiv). 4.  Transgressivity has become a key factor in spatial theories: This becomes evident in the ­i n-between-ness of Soja’s “Thirdspace” (in between conceived and perceived) as well as in Deleuze and Guáttari’s assertion that “smooth space” and “striated space” are not binaries but constantly transform each other in social practice (Deleuze and Guáttari 552). Homi K. Bhaba also theorizes “Third Space” as a site where cultural differences are negotiated and redefined (Bhaba 5, 37–38). Other examples include Gloria Anzaldúa’s “borderland” (3) and Mary Louise Pratt’s “contact zones” (Pratt 4). 5.  The frontier as a mythical narrative already came into being with the Puritan settlers (Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence 5). The colonization of the “New World” was brought together with a religious ideology of renewal and the right to claim the land in God’s name—an ideology which would become known as “Manifest Destiny.” A paradigmatic example is John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630) in which he described the settlement of America as the construction of “a Citty upon a Hill, [where] the eyes of all people are uppon us” (Winthrop 317). 6.  Scholars have also shifted to using different terms, including the concepts of the “borderland”/ “borderlands” (Anzaldúa 3) and “contact zones” (Pratt 4). The frontier is still often used in settler colonial studies for discussing other countries, e.g., of Australia (Altenbernd and Young 130–133). 7.  In American studies, the Western and SF constitute the most often discussed genres in terms of how they appropriate and transform the frontier myth. On the frontier myth in the Western, see Richard Slotkin’s Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the Frontier 1600–1860, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization 1800–1890, and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in ­Twentieth-Century America. On



Notes—Chapter 2237

the frontier myth in SF, see the collection Space and Beyond: The Frontier Theme in Science Fiction (edited by Gary Westfahl) and studies by Carl Abbott (Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West and Imagined Frontiers: Contemporary America and Beyond) and William H. Katerberg (Future West: Utopia and Apocalypse in Frontier Science Fiction). 8.  A prominent example for the political appropriation of the frontier myth is John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” in the 1960s (Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 1–3). Kennedy reframed the frontier myth as a national rallying point for his domestic and Cold War politics (Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation 3; Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier 3). 9.  An exception is M. Keith Booker’s Science Fiction Television in which the term does not appear.

Chapter 2 1.  This does not hold true for how the series represents environmental spaces which remain locked in the wilderness/ civilization binary which is why they are not discussed in this chapter. 2.  Liberal humanism is defined by Bernardi in Star Trek and History as a “value and belief system that espouses political equality and social egalitarianism” (31), championing “individual worth and freedom, racial and gender equality, and the importance in secular human values” (31). It is often tied to a notion of progress propelled by liberal, tolerant, and altruistic governments (31–32). 3.  The “Final Frontier” also functions as a barrier. A barrier signifies the transition from the known (here known space) into the unknown (here uncharted, “unexplored” space) and demands human (technological) skills to be breached (Wolfe, The Known and the Unknown 33). The “Final Frontier” as barrier therefore reinforces Star Trek’s colonial ambitions and humanist exploration ideology. 4.  The decentering of the human has become one of the key factors in definitions of posthumanism (Badmington 374–384, Ranisch and Sorgner 7–27). 5.  The positive coding of technology

in Star Trek resembles the “Golden Age” of SF (1930s–1950s) which was dominated by an “unabashed and unvarnished belief in the moral superiority and benevolence of an autonomous technology” (van der Laan 235). 6.  The representation of the disintegration chambers evokes images of Holocaust gas chambers. Gas chambers presented a technology for “dehumanizing and industrializing death” (Mbembe 18) and turned killing into a “purely technical, impersonal, silent, and rapid procedure” (18). The disintegration chambers highlight the capacity of advanced technologies to pose a (physical) risk to both populations but also to ethical laws which become suspended as killing becomes technologically sanitized. 7.  Lyman Tower Sargent rejects the necessity of perfection for utopia and replaces a fixed blueprint which needs to be followed by societies (22) with a more liberal “social dreaming” (3). Sargent associates blueprint utopias aimed at perfection with totalitarian regimes (22), a point also made by Gregory Claeys’ in his analysis of NS Germany and Soviet Russia (Dystopia, 497). 8.  Tyrrell (21), Blair (312), and Kapell (Exploring the Next Frontier, 149) all note the pervasiveness of “paradise episodes” in Star Trek. Tyrrell identifies 13 out of 79 episodes as dealing with paradise spaces (21). 9.  The Amish people are an “ethnoreligious minority” (Kraybill, JohnsonWeiner and Nolt xii) within the United States. In 2012, these minority communities encompassed about 275,000 members (x). 10.  This approach clearly informs the miners’ initial perception of the Horta who is represented and perceived by the miners as a “monster” or “creature” that obstructs mining and needs to be killed. 1 1.  Finding Serenity and Serenity Found hover ­i n-between scholarly readings of Firef ly and rather “fanish” responses to the series as the contributors include screenwriters, comedians, magazine writers, illustrators, fiction writers, actors, and even a model. 1 2.  Classic Western tropes identified in Firef ly include open “wilderness” spaces, bar brawls, train robberies, shoot-

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outs, cattle driving (Abbott, Imagined Frontiers 190–191), bount y hunting, smuggling and thefts, frontier towns, prostitutes with a “heart of gold,” and ex–Civil War heroes (Wills 10). 1 3.  Jones argues that Firef ly constructs a communal social and political space aboard Serenity based on notions of liminality, individual freedom, independence, autonomy and mutual respect instead of sticking to binaries such as savage/civilized, individual/community (239–242). While this point is valid, her conclusion is problematic as she claims that Firef ly’s political frontier replaces the frontier as a space. First, Serenity is a space in itself. Second, Firefly still explores frontier spaces (the Rim planets, the liminal space of the Black, Alliance spaces and Reaver territory). 14.  Some scholars argue that Firef ly does not replicate a colonial core-pe­ riph­e ry relation of the past but instead extrapolates from contemporary neocolonial relations between former empires and former colonies in terms of economic dependency (Jencson par. 30– 34; Canavan, “Fighting a War You’ve Already Lost” 180). 1 5.  Adrian Howkins argues that the settler colonial belief in terra nullius or “empty lands” was a myth which systematically denied the presence of indigenous peoples (29). Still, there was at least one country which actually was empty, namely Antarctica (Howkins 29). 16.  Despite this supposedly positive image of the core planets, they actually signify artificiality and a state of sterility as they are inhabited by an egocentric, arrogant upper class (Jowett 101), exemplified by the Atherton Wing in “Shindig” and the Tams which place more value on social standing rather on the wellbeing of their daughter (“Safe”). 17.  The fact that the Reavers are not marked as different by identifiable visual markers such as skin color, sex, and gender has also been read by Gareth Hadyk-Delodder and Laura Chilcoat as a positive destabilization of the assumed “naturalness” of binary categories such as black/white and female/male (42). 1 8.  “­E co-cosmopolitanism” entails a rethinking of the local and the global in political, social, and environmental

terms. Heise calls for human cultures to acknowledge the fact of “global connectedness” (57) which requires transnational cooperation in dealing with global environmental risks. Ulrich Beck makes a similar point about the necessity for cosmopolitan cooperation for the definition and management of global risks (World at Risk, 15). 19.  Technological experimentation on the human body has become a staple in SF. The “super soldier” variant became a dominant feature in U.S. television in the 1970s with the airing of The Six Million Dollar Man (1974–1978) and Bionic Woman (1976–78). Both shows explored the modification of human bodies and raised “concerns of technology and its relationship to society and the human body” (Geraghty, American Science Fiction Film and Television 62). While these series mostly coded technological intrusions as positive improvements of the body (63), more recent U.S. television and film often utilizes a dystopian approach to “super soldier” projects, emphasizing diverse risks, e.g., the loss of emotions, the violation of bodily boundaries, risks to the individual’s health, and a ruthless militaristic instrumentalization of the human being, as evidenced by the television series Dark Angel (2000–2002) and the ­re-make of RoboCop (2014). 2 0.  This objectification is also reinforced by Agent Dobson’s comment to Jayne in the pilot episode that River is a “precious commodity” for the Alliance (“Serenity”). 21.  Firefly is also based on the premise of a future Earth which is “exhausted” both spatially (overpopulation) and economically (resource exhaustion, destruction of the natural ecosystems). The series therefore codes ­E arth-that-was in terms of the environmental dystopia. In addition, this dystopia leads to ­l arge-scale colonialism in outer space, replete with dystopian relations of oppression, exploitation, and dependency. 22.  This paradox underlies totalitarian regimes as historical examples demonstrate, e.g., the rule of “terror” under Robespierre and the Jacobins in the late eighteenth century in France (Claeys, Dystopia 119–125) and post–1917 Bolshevism and Stalinism (Claeys, Dystopia



Notes—Chapter 3239

143–144). Hannah Arendt identifies this paradox as a central component of “total terror” which creates “a band of iron” (465) between citizens which is meant to unite them but destroys social relations through fostering fear and suspicion (466). 2 3.  Brown argues that the mise-enscène of the series reflects multicultural blendings as indicated by the (omni)presence of Chinese shields, textiles, lanterns, “hookahs, Moroccan carvings, yazuka tattoos, Turkic saddle bags” (Brown par. 21–22).

Chapter 3 1.  Settler colonial studies only consolidated relatively recently in the 1990s to 2000s with publications such as Patrick Wolfe’s Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology (1996) and the collection Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century: Projects, Practices, Legacies (2005). 2.  While traditional imperial colonialism is “dead” since the decoloni­ zation period in the twentieth century, both settler colonial and postcolonial scholars emphasize the continuing legacy of colonial modes of living and const r uc t ion s of spaces i n t he g loba l present-day world (Elkins and Pedersen 1; Veracini, Settler Colonialism 114–115; Sharp 7). These new forms of colonialism have been labelled “Neocolonialism” (Veracini, “Introduction” 2). 3.  One exception can be found in “The Runaway” in which Mira applies white war paint to her face and carries feathers in her braided hair, both stereotypical racial markers of Native Americans reminiscent of representations of “Indians” in the Western. Both the facial paint and feathers are stereotypical in that they are essentializing, reductive, exaggerated, and culturally simplified elements (Hall, “The Spectacle of the Other” 258). 4.  The same attempt at challenging the colonists’ utopian perception of the colony also underpins Mira’s interactions with Jim Shannon as she encourages him to look beyond the “starting over crap” (“The Runaway”). 5.  Exemplary for this line of trans-

cendentalist thinking is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature (1836) in which Emerson advocates for a return to “an original relation to the universe” (1110). He connects this with “new lands, new men, new thoughts” (1111)—a formulation which figures similarly in Turner’s later Frontier Thesis (Turner 199–223). 6.  The term focalization derives from narratology in which it designates that events are narrated through the perspectives of different characters/focalizers (Genette qtd. in Jahn 244). More recently the concept has been extended to the study of space in fiction (Westphal 122–131). 7.  This definition of place also calls the very existence of natural places into question. As Heise notes, places are “not simply given in advance of human understanding” (46) but only come into being through cultural practices; i.e., they are always a human construction (46). 8.  Lawrence Buell even extends the notion of place beyond the borders of the ­n ation-state by arguing for the construction of a “global sense of place” (92), a notion which also informs Ursula Heise’s call for developing a “sense of planet” (55). 9.  Heise charts what she calls a “land erotic” (29) from Jeffersonian agrarianism (29) to Wendell Berry’s focus on the “careful use of and work with the land” (29) and Leo Marx’s escapist vision of wilderness as a refuge from modern, industrial society (30). 10.  This companion species relation is still undercut by forms of colonial domination: It is the settler colonizer’s “supreme” knowledge of chemistry and science which enables the relocation of the pterosaurs. Moreover, Dr. Malcolm Wallace gives the species the scientific name malcolmis pterosaurius, a name which defines the species in relation to a specific human individual (“Instinct”). 1 1.  This equation of animals and the notion of wilderness is a traditional colonial way of representation in which “wild” animals are reduced to ­s tand-ins for “the” wilderness as a whole (Vint, Animal Alterity 113). 12.  The industrial SF frontier features prominently in audiovisual SF, e.g., in Alien (1979) and Avatar (2009) and Firefly (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 175).

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1 3.  The ­n eo-frontier spaces of 2149 therefore are no longer primarily defined by their (settler) colonial nature but rather by an omnipresence of risks. 14.  While the Anthropocene has become established in geology, history, and the humanities, the concept has also been met with criticism. Emmett and Lekan cite Slavoj Žižek as a major opponent of the concept as he critiques the undiversified dependence of the term on “a Hegelian dialectic of the universal (life on Earth) and the particular (capitalism)” (Emmett and Lekan 9). Joseph Masco contemplates the concept as a dangerous simplification of human/­non-human relationships and warns that the Anthropocene implicitly supports claims for an “entirely human made ecology” (Masco 326). 15.  This focus on capitalism reflects both on the ­t wenty-first century and the historical background of the frontier myth itself, as the frontier as colonial borderline and the notion of civilizing wilderness are intimately connected to capitalist ­s pace-making processes (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 167–168; Limerick 27). 16.  These risks and their interactions and interconnections have also been identified for the ­r eal-world present in contemporary ecological research (Hengeveld ix–xvii, Barata et al. 192–193). 17.  High levels of nitrous oxide and methane propel climate warming to a much higher degree than carbon dioxide (Hengeveld 141–142). 18.  Although Terra Nova suggests a “­t echno-fix” of its own—using a time portal to escape to the Cretaceous past— the time rift has been discovered by scientists; i.e., it is not the product of techno-scientific research but is naturally occurring (“Genesis”). 1 9.  Projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2000 adopted a more flexible approach by indicating a future world population of ­i n-between 7.1 to 15.1 billion people by 2100 (Hulme 269). 2 0.  This loss of food diversity extrapolates from current ecological and climatological projections which predict a loss of crops in the future due to changes in temperatures to which the plants cannot successfully adapt (Hengeveld xiii).

21.  Terra Nova can be read as a part of contemporary climate change fiction which is characterized by what E. Ann Kaplan calls a “Pretraumatic Stress Syndrome” (xix): In these fictions “audiences are invited to identify with future selves in uncertain, dangerous, and ultimately unsustainable worlds” (xix). This identification guarantees that viewers contemplate the scenario as a warning to what might happen if contemporary ways of living are not adapted (xix). 2 2.  Gregory Claeys notes that the dominant color signifying dystopia is typically “ ­blood-red” (Dystopia 4). 23.  In “Genesis,” it becomes clear that a house can be “purchased” even by teenagers with the Terras they earn (“Genesis”). Moreover, capitalist ­profit-making is not completely abolished in the colony as the bar functions as a site in which illegal gambling and betting takes place (“Bylaw”). 2 4.  Another significant critique is articulated by Dr. Malcolm Wallace in “The Runaway” when one of his scientists is accused by Taylor of being a Sixer spy. Malcolm criticizes that there are no lawyers in Terra Nova, exposing it not as a “good place” but as a military dictatorship in which Taylor takes on the role of the judge and the jury without giving the accused the right to defend himself.

Chapter 4 1.  Examples include the movies True Grit (2010) and Django Unchained (2012) and television series such as Deadwood (2004–2006) and Hell on Wheels (2011– 2016). 2.  The mining of gulanite, an energy source for most technological devices, has led to a population increase as miners moved to Defiance to make a fortune, paralleling the California Gold Rush in the 1850s. 3.  This disconnect from the past also becomes apparent in that the city was renamed after the Pale Wars and that the new name does not indicate any connection to old St. Louis (“Pilot”). 4.  A further parallel is the presence of a strong criminal underworld in Defiance, a sector which often flourishes in slum settings (Davis 21).



Notes—Chapter 4241

5.  Rhythmicity is derived from rhythmanalysis in geographical urban studies. Rhythmanalysis explores “relationships between different forms of movement and spatial arrangements, between durations and moments” (Highmore 9). Rhythmanalysis was introduced in Henri Lefebvre’s last book Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life. Rhythmanalysis only developed into a fullyfledged method in geographical studies recently (cf. ­Reid-Musson 882–883). 6.  This framing of the Nolans as frontier heroes is furthered by the use of music. Both characters are introduced as they sing along to the Johnny Cash and June Carter country song “Jackson.” As S. Andrew Granade notes, the vocals and guitar accompaniment work together with the barren wasteland and the characters’ utility clothing to code the characters in terms of the conventions of the classical Western (83). 7.  The “indigenization of the settler” is an ambivalent process: Settlers indigenize themselves by constructing a connection to the frontier but they have their “roots” elsewhere which ties their original home to their new home and fuses both in the construction of colonial cities (Veracini 21). The same ambiguity underlies the population groups of Defiance. The humans retain a mythical connection to St. Louis which is fused with the new city of Defiance which includes Votan populations. The Votan populations embrace the same duality: They derive from another star system but have to adapt or retain their “old world” lifestyles in Defiance. 8.  ­R ace-thinking refers to “a way of assigning generic meaning to human bodies and bloodlines” (Taylor 16). Racethinking connects visual bodily markers with certain assumed stereotypical biological and cultural traits, e.g., levels of intelligence, musical tastes, and forms of sexuality (15–16). 9.  Cultural stereotyping based on race-thinking is also prevalent among the Votan species. Doctor Ywell, an Indogene, ridicules Irathients and their ancient beliefs in their “­o oga-booga Irathient god” (“Goodbye Blue Sky”) and Datak Tarr, a Castithan, represents Irathients as ­plague-carriers (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”).

10.  Therefore, I disagree with Lavigne’s argument that racism in Defiance is presented as an individualized problem rather than a historically structural phenomenon (78). 1 1.  S. Andrew Granade points to another transculturation process in his analysis of a fusion of musical styles (human and Castithan) in Defiance that suggests “an assimilation on all sides that enriches everyone involved” (85). 1 2.  This view is not uniform among a l l Castithans. Data k Tarr defends the maintenance of the “old laws” of Casthi. Stahma, Alak, and younger Castithans instead argue for a new ways of life that need to adapt to the multicultural community of the city (“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go,” “The Bride Wore Black,” “Past is Prologue”). 13.  This capitalist view of wilderness as a reservoir of natural resources, ready to be exploited for economic gain, predominates the thinking of large parts of the population of Defiance, including everyone involved with the McCawley Mines but also traders who gain their living by transforming natural resources into sellable commodities. 14.  Defiance differs from other postapocalyptic wastelands in SF film and television in which the wasteland is cognitively estranged but still tied to the past by either the presence of “old world” monuments—e.g., the remains of the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes (1968)—or by the continuing existence of destroyed but still recognizable cities, e.g., New York in I Am Legend (2007), Atlanta in The Walking Dead (­2 010– present), and Chicago and Philadelphia in Revolution (2012–2014). 1 5.  Climate change fiction presents “worlds in which climate change has caused drastic, devastating changes in the ecosystemic, ­s ocio-economic, political and cultural orders” (Mayer 506), resulting in wastelands not unlike the Badlands. 16.  Similar definitions of terraforming can also be found in Martin Beech’s Terraforming: The Creating of Habitable Worlds (7) and James S. L. Schwartz’s “On the Moral Permissibility of Terraforming” (1). 17.  Examples range from terraforming

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single planets (e.g., Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy) to the terraforming of entire solar systems (e.g., in Firefly). 18.  Joseph Masco’s analysis of nuclear testing sites during the Cold War and the transformation of Earth by the “cumulative effects of industry, militarism, and capitalism” (329) throughout the twentieth to ­t wenty-first century shows that terraforming has already occurred in the past. It is not just a part of speculative SF but has already occurred in the “real” world. Moreover, contemporary efforts at geoengineering prove that terraforming is already a part of scientific research today (Masco 321–322). Examples include the construction of Boulder Dam, the Colorado River course, and Aswan High Dam (Pak 3–4). 19.  Geoengineering is a case in point as scientists suggest that even climate change can be reversed by further technological progress. Scientists propose to modify the composition of clouds so that they reflect sunlight back into space or artificial carbon sinks in order to extract ­c arbon-dioxide from the atmosphere (Rusco 2–3). Yet, geoengineering problematically assumes that “ecologies are simply machines that can be tuned by people to better outcomes” (Masco 326). 2 0.  Ulrich Beck distinguishes between environmental, economic, terrorist, and “biographical risks” in his typology of global risks (World at Risk, 14). Richard A. Posner identifies similar classes of catastrophic risks (12). 21.  Social Darwinism emerged in the 1850s in England (Claeys, “The ‘Survival of the Fittest’ 227). Social Darwinism tied already existing beliefs in a social struggle (e.g., by Hobbes and Malthus), a “survival of the fittest,” to race. Social Dar winism claimed that races were locked in a struggle in which “natural selection” would sort out the “fit” races due to an assumed racial superiority and higher intellectual capacity for progress in “white” races (235–239). This racializing logic also underpins Datak’s perspective as he considers humans as “weak” and hence “unfit” for survival in comparison to Castithans (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive”). 2 2.  This complex perspectivism mirrors contemporary perceptions of climate

change risks which have also become contested signifiers which hold a variety of positive and negative meanings (Hulme xxv–xxxviii). 2 3.  The relationship between risk and utopia in SF has been studied by Jeanne Cortiel. She argues that both concepts share a concern with “the uncertainties of a world that is round and in which the unknown outweighs the known” (1355). She identifies a tendency in feminist SF in which risk and ­r isk-taking become a starting point for “social dreaming” (1353), a process similar to how spaces are recoded through risk in Defiance. 2 4.  The narrative choice of victims reinforces this spatial distribution of risk. While all of the main characters within Defiance survive the razor rain, Sukar, a recurring character living in the wasteland, is killed by shrapnel (“Goodbye Blue Sky”). 25.  A similar point has also been made about riskscapes in recent geographical risk research (Renn and Klinke 2; MüllerMahn, Everts, and Doevenspeck 203). 2 6.  Jim Cullen demonstrates that there are many American Dreams which emerged at different points in time. He distinguishes between the Puritan American Dream (moving to the “New World” to worship God differently from the Church of England), the American Dream of Independence (expressed in the Declaration of Independence), the Dream of Upward Mobility (personified by iconic figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln), the American Dream of Equality (abolitionism, the Civil Rights Movement), the American Dream of Home Ownership (from the Homestead Act 1862 up to ­m id– twentieth century utopian notions of suburbia), and the American Dream of Personal Fulfillment (e.g., colonial adventures, speculators, and the contemporary Holly wood system) in the ­t wenty-first century (8–9).

Chapter 5 1.  This does not mean that The 100 abolishes the “SF frontier.” The series emphasizes that a part of humanit y left Earth after the nuclear catastrophe



Notes—Chapter 5243

by using an anomaly stone to colonize other planets (“Anaconda”). Moreover, the 100 leave Earth behind and colonize the moon Beta/Sanctum (season 6–7) and they use a transit system of wormholes to travel to the planets Beta/Skyring (“The Garden”), Nakara (“Nakara”), Etherea (“Etherea”) and Bardo (“Welcome to Bardo”). Yet, these planets constitute temporary places of inhabitation as the 100 ultimately return to Earth and to make it their permanent home (“The Last War”). 2.  Biblical names are ubiquitous on the Ark. Apart from the Eden Tree, which frames Earth as a paradise similar to the Book of Genesis, the name of the Ark itself alludes to Noah’s Ark and codes the 2237 inhabitants as chosen few (by God) who survived a global catastrophe on Earth (“Contents Under Pressure”). Moreover, the Ark is equipped with dropships which can be launched via initiating Project Exodus, a reference which again stages Earth as a future “promised land.” 3.  Frontier thinking is not limited to Bellamy and his group. Jaha contemplates the Ground as a “second chance” for humanity (“Pilot”). Clarke tries to convince Charlotte that Earth is a “second chance” for the 100 as they can leave behind the past and start over (“Earth Kills”). The belief in the possibility to start over is repeated throughout the series as the characters constantly attempt to “do better” after having caused disasters. 4.  Scholars have also read the lesbian relationship between Clarke and Lexa— the leader of the “Trikru” tribe—in seasons 2–3 as a possibility for transcending us/them binaries as both characters begin to respect each other (Lavigne 143–144; Howe, “Survival of the Fittest” 171–175). 5.  The series constantly introduces new Others for the 100/”Skaikru” to define themselves against: the Mountain Men (season 2), A.L.I.E (season 2–5), the Eligius IV prisoners (seasons 5 and 7); the Sanctum inhabitants, Primes, and Children of Gabriel (season 6–7), and the Disciples on Bardo (season 7). 6.  The series repeatedly relies on violence as a primary means of interaction between the 100 and Others. Still, The 100 suggests that this “cycle of violence”

can be transcended as the 100/Wonkru ultimately make peace with the inhabitants of Bardo and Sanctum as they realize that they all are parts of mankind (“The Last War”). 7.  The Eden Tree constitutes a religious icon which deliberately blurs a really existing plant with the mythic vision of Earth as a new Biblical Garden Eden. 8.  Other moons and planets such as A lpha/Sa nc t u m, Beta/Sk y ri ng , a nd Nakara are also represented as a “testing ground” for the characters in later seasons as they have to proof their survival skills (“Sanctum,” “Nakara”). Season 7 even makes the testing ground scenario explicit as Bellamy and a Disciple scale a mountain during a snow storm which is presented as a test by the Shepherd (“Etherea”). 9.  Similar representations of animals as a lethal threat also extend to alien planets as insects attack characters during solar eclipses on Sanctum (“Sanctum,” “Blood Giant”) and a group has to survive inside the digestive tract of an alien organism on Nakara (“Nakara”). 10.  This also holds true for the anomaly in season 6 to 7. While it is introduced as a dangerous natural phenomenon that affects ecosystems in a destructive way (“The Gospel of Josephine”), it has been engineered by an alien species in order to travel from planet to planet (“The Garden”). 11.  John Rieder identifies “alluring females in need of rescue” as a staple element in pulp era SF (“American Frontiers” 169). 12.  Monty’s comment foreshadows the repetitive use of the frontier-hero-saveswoman-in-danger pattern as Octavia is later abducted in the series and Bellamy and Jasper prove their “frontier masculinity” by venturing into Grounder territory to rescue her (“His Sister’s Keeper”). 13.  The frontier hero trope of “hearty, determined, adventuring individuals” (Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future 41) figured prominently in pulp era SF frontier fiction from the 1910s to 1940s, including the fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs and serials such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. (Rieder, “American Frontiers” 169).

244 Notes—Conclusion 14.  My argument aligns with Kauth’s assessment that The 100 articulates a “collective [environmental] unconscious” (298); i.e., it calls attention to how the environment has already changed through ­human-induced activities in the contemporary present despite its speculative ­set-up (238–284; 298). 15.  The sublime in Burke functions as an experience that can be domesticated: Repeated exposure to the grandeur of the initially shocking sublime strengthens the human powers of perception (Shaw 6). 16.  Technocratic societies assume that technological tools function as servants to human lives which are under human control (Postman 47–48). In technocratic societies in eighteenth to nineteenth century Europe, risk was also conceived as unambiguous as it was considered to be a measurable and predictable phenomenon (Beck, World at Risk 7). 17.  The risks of nuclear radiation are prominently introduced in the “Pilot” but the 100 are in no danger from radiation as it seems to have dissipated (“Earth Skills”). Nuclear risk reemerges at the end of season 3 in which nuclear reactors begin to melt down on a global scale (“Perverse Instantiation, Part 2”), a narrative pattern also repeated on Sanctum in “False Gods.” 18.  Bellamy’s edgework is defined by courageous acts which set him apart from the 100 which corresponds with the classic frontier hero in the Western who is “standing apart from, and above, ordinary men and women” (Den Uyl 30, italics added) by his willingness to take risks. 19.  The belief in the ­utopian-ness of the Ark is also reaffirmed by Vera Kane who calls the Ark a “salvation” for mankind (while at the same time opening up the Earth as a “real” utopian site to be traveled to). 2 0.  This point has also often been addressed by utopian scholarship. The

main argument often is that the dominant hegemonic sociopolitical order utilizes utopia as an escapist realm for the public; i.e., alternatives to the present system seem impossible or undesirable or the present system appears to be an achieved utopia (Moylan 144; Jameson 3; Wegner xxii). 21.  This tension between uniting a community under a common utopian purpose while promoting dystopian living conditions for the public is repeated in seasons 6 and 7. The Primes stage Sanctum as a place of harmony, peace, and ­well-being for its inhabitants (“The Children of Gabriel”). However, this purported utopia serves as a means to take over inhabitants through mind drives that kill the host (“The Face Behind the Glass”). A similar logic underpins the utopian society on Bardo that is united by the belief in a “war to end all wars” and transcendence (“Welcome to Bardo”) while entailing a dystopian commitment to the Shepherd and the willingness of the inhabitants of Bardo to sacrifice their lives for “the cause” (“The Last War”). 2 2.  Mert and Firestone argue that the “whatever the hell we want” maxim allows the 100 to shed their externally imposed identity as prisoners on the Ark and redefine their own identities according to their own personal wishes and values (157).

Conclusion 1.  The risk of infection in postapocalyptic television also holds the potential for critiquing contemporary ways of (scientific) ­s pace-making, e.g., through quarantines (Müller 77–83). 2.  William H. Katerberg similarly argues that the remaking of frontier mythical stories in SF works to redeem historical frontier spaces from their mythical (fictionalized) past (222).

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Index Abbott, Carl ​1, 3, 4, 6–7, 9, 27–29, 48, 51, 111, 115–117, 122, 132, 134, 136, 150, 161, 164–165, 172, 175–176, 206, 208, 212, 215–216, 220, 223, 230, 237n7, 238n12, 243n12 accident ​207 Adey, Peter ​88, 92, 153 aesthetic object ​61, 79; definition 22 Agamben, Giorgio ​185, 217, 220 agrarianism ​24, 46, 55, 87, 92, 98–100, 109, 239n9 Albertini, Bill ​ ​166 alien ​14, 16–17, 26, 32–33, 35–36, 38, 40, 46, 49, 83, 101, 111–112, 136, 146, 158– 159, 160, 168, 172, 175–177, 201, 205, 212, 229, 243n9, 243n10 Alien (movie) ​ 239n12 alien invasion ​ ​17, 111–112, 159, 168, 172, 175–177, 229 alienation ​65, 212, 217 Altenbernd, Erik ​6, 23–24, 236n6 Althusser, Louis ​174 American Dream ​168, 172–174, 176–177, 225, 242n26 analogy ​37; 167; definition 159 Andréolle, Donna Spalding ​47 Andromeda (television series) ​ 7 animal ​10, 49, 97–98, 101–104, 108, 152– 153, 158, 189, 193, 201–202, 205, 212, 239n11, 243n9 anti-utopia ​5; 122–125, 133–134, 223, 226, 228; definition 122 Anzaldúa, Gloria ​236n6 apocalypse ​3; 27, 111–112, 133, 195, 221, 236n3; definition 17 Arendt, Hannah ​72, 124–125, 171, 239n22 Arenson, Adam ​143–145 Ark (The 100) ​146, 168, 178–185, 187– 188, 191–199, 203–213, 215–224, 243n2, 244n19, 244n22

Arnoldi, Jakob ​39, 214 Asimov, Isaac ​15, 26–27 assimilation ​23, 146–147, 241n11 Atwood, Margaret ​15 Augé, Marc ​197 Avatar ​ 196, 239n12 Azaryahu, Maoz ​98, 101, 139, 186, 195, 197 Babylon 5 ​7, 181 Baccolini, Raffaella ​73, 123, 134 Badlands (Defiance) ​138, 145, 149, 151, 153–158, 241n15 Badmington, Neil ​237n4 Baggett, David ​53, 58–59, 61–62 Barata, Martha ​118, 240n16 Barbosa, Carlos ​107–108 Barry, John ​114, 117 Battlestar Galactica (2004 television series) ​7, 28 Baxter, Stephen ​181 Baudrillard, Jean ​38–39 the beautiful ​202–205, 227; definition 199 Beck, Ulrich ​5, 39–40, 43, 67–69, 71, 116, 160–167, 170, 208–209, 212, 214, 238n18, 242n20, 244n16 Beech, Martin ​54, 68 Berger, James ​17–18, 133, 142, 156, 228 Berglund, Barbara ​143–145 Bernardi, Daniel ​32–33, 237n2 Bernardo, Susan M. ​98 Bhaba, Homi K. ​93, 97, 147, 149, 185, 188, 236n4 biopolitics ​42, 216; 219, 220, 224; definition 217 the Black (Firefly) ​54, 57–60, 71, 76, 78– 79, 81, 238n13 Blair, Karin ​30–32, 37, 43, 44, 47, 237n8 border ​1, 4–5, 13–14, 22, 31, 34, 37, 53– 58, 60, 63–65, 67–71, 75–76, 78–80,

261

262 Index 82, 85, 88, 90, 93–95, 97, 99, 113, 115, 125, 138–139, 149, 152, 164, 179, 184, 199, 203, 230, 226, 239n8, 240n15 borderland ​6, 24, 138, 234n4, 234n6, 236n6 Bould, Mark ​14, 105 Brodman, Barbara ​156 Brown, David S. ​23 Brown, Rebecca M. ​52–54, 74–75, 239n23 Brummer, E. Charles ​108 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ​7, 243n13 Buckman, Alyson R. ​51, 53–54, 56, 59, 76 Budgen, David ​55, 76 Buell, Frederick ​111–112 Buell, Lawrence ​98–100, 115, 196–197, 239n8 Bukatman, Scott ​41–42 Burke, Edmund ​199, 202, 204, 244n15 Busby, Jerry ​43, 161, 209 Bussolini, Jeffrey ​52 Butler, Jeremy G. ​8 Butler, Judith ​124 Buzan, Barry ​33 Buzzard, Laura ​51–54, 56, 58, 67, 69, 75 Caldwell, Patrice ​27 Caldwell, John Thorton ​7, 235n6 Cameron, W.S.K. ​103, 106, 151 camp ​8, 11, 82, 89, 92, 94, 145, 149, 168, 179, 186–188, 190–193, 213, 220; definition 185 Campbell, Timothy ​219 Campbell, Tracy ​141–142 Canavan, Gerry ​16, 52–54, 56, 60, 69, 71, 111, 114, 238n14 capitalism ​10, 27, 51, 65–66, 68, 71, 76, 81, 93, 95, 97, 99–100, 108, 110–114, 117–121, 123–129, 135, 153–154, 158, 168, 172, 174–175, 228, 240n14, 240n15, 242n18 Captain Video and His Video Rangers ​7 carcerotopia ​127, 134; definition 133 Castithan (Defiance) ​136, 139, 141, 144, 146, 149, 153, 241n9; 241n11, 241n12, 242n21 catastrophe ​5, 10–11, 16–18, 39, 41, 65, 82, 111, 113, 115, 122, 124, 136, 139, 156, 159, 161–162, 164–165, 167, 178, 187, 191, 195, 206–208, 212, 217, 220– 221, 227–230, 242n1, 242n20, 243n2; definition 112 Catchpole, John E. ​180 Chakrabarty, Dipesh ​112

Chicago ​5, 22, 110, 112, 116–118, 121–126, 131, 171, 241n14 Chilcoat, Laura ​52–53, 70, 238n17 civilization ​4, 6, 10–11, 21–24, 31, 42, 46–47, 53, 57,-58, 61, 63–66, 73, 79, 87, 89–90, 97, 102–103, 106, 109–110, 125, 128, 130, 145, 151–152, 154–158, 180– 182, 184, 193, 199–204, 225–227, 230, 235n4, 237n1 city ​4, 8, 10, 21, 23, 38, 47–48, 50, 65– 66, 74, 97–98, 102–103, 106–107, 110, 117–120, 122, 125–126, 134, 136–139, 141–146, 148–152, 154–155, 158, 163, 166, 168–169, 170–173, 176, 179, 183, 185, 190, 194, 204, 216, 225, 228, 230, 236n1, 240n3, 241n7, 241n12 Claeys, Gregory ​45, 47, 72, 78, 122, 125– 127, 129, 132–134, 163, 170–171, 173, 218–221, 237n7, 238n22, 240n22, 242n21 Clark, Leisa A. ​112 classic utopia ​127–128, 168 climate change ​1, 5, 10, 16–17, 82, 110– 116, 123, 151, 158–159, 164, 167, 227– 229, 240n19, 241n15, 242n19 Clover, Carol S. ​104 Cobb, John B., Jr. ​64, 103, 107–108, 154 Cochran, Tanya ​51, 55 code-switching ​52, 74–75, 80 cognitive estrangement ​9, 13, 18, 155, 236n1; definition 15–16 colony ​1, 8, 10–11, 82–91, 93,-95, 97– 104, 106–109, 121, 126–135, 137–138, 149, 168–169, 176, 178–179, 181, 185– 186, 216, 228, 239n4, 240n23 Colony (television series) ​8, 229 companion species ​102, 152, 205, 239n10; definition 101 contact zone ​4, 6, 23–24, 58, 143–144, 147–148, 150, 175, 236n4, 236n6; definition 7 Containment ​229 Corelli, Angelo ​163 Cortiel, Jeanne ​242n23 cosmopolitanism ​141, 162, 165, 167, 170, 180, 192, 214, 217, 238n18 Creed, Barbara ​104 Cresswell, Tim ​87–88, 91, 145 crisis ​5, 10–11, 14, 16–17, 36, 42, 112– 113, 115, 136, 159, 186, 227–229; definition 111 Cronon, William ​46, 59, 64, 103, 152– 153, 156, 200–202 Crosthwaite, Paul ​111 Csicsery-Ronay, Istvan, Jr. ​15–16, 36, 44, 146, 235n5



Index263

Cullen, Jim ​172–173, 175, 242n26 Cunningham, Frank ​154 Curry, Agnes B. ​52 cyberpunk ​110, 126, 134 Dark Angel ​8, 229, 238n19 Davis, Mike ​118–119, 142, 240n4 Deadwood ​240n1 Defiance (television series) ​ 1, 3–5, 7–11, 13, 16–18, 20–22, 26, 30, 40, 43, 51, 54, 84, 97, 111, 136–139, 143–146, 148–172, 174–179, 183–185, 187, 189–191, 193, 199, 201, 204–205, 209–210, 215–217, 221, 223, 225–230, 241n10, 241n11, 241n13, 241n14, 242n23 Defiance (city) ​137–154, 157, 162–166, 168–174, 176, 181, 240n2, 241n7, 242n24 Deleuze, Gilles ​86, 88, 91, 236n4 Den Uyl, Douglas J. ​104, 130, 145, 163, 174, 186, 202, 210–211, 244n18 Derwent, Dick ​114 Dinello, Daniel ​41, 43–44, 70 Di Palma, Vittoria ​155–157 Django Unchained ​240n1 Doevenspeck, Martin ​242n25 Doyle, Briohny ​17, 156, 162, 229 dwelling ​106–107, 111, 191, 226–227 dystopia ​4–5, 10–11, 21, 27–28, 31, 33; 44, 47, 49, 50, 71, 73, 76, 80, 121–128, 130–131, 133–135, 168, 170–171, 176, 178, 216–226, 228–230, 238n19, 238n21, 240n22, 244n21; definition 45 Earth ​5, 7, 9, 11, 17, 32, 35–36, 46, 54, 65, 67–68, 80, 82–83, 112, 114–115, 118, 120, 122–123, 136, 142, 146, 151, 153, 157–161, 163–165, 168, 170, 173, 175– 183, 185–186, 188, 190–197, 199–205, 209–218, 221–222, 227, 235n2, 238n21, 240n14, 242n18, 243n1, 243n2, 242n3, 243n7, 244n19 Ecological Footprint ​109 ecology ​54, 159, 194, 199, 240n14 economy ​64, 109, 141, 143–144, 148, 183 ecosystem ​11, 44, 50, 64–65, 67–68, 80, 97, 100, 102–103, 105–106, 108–110; 112, 115, 117–118, 122, 136, 151, 153– 154, 157–163, 193, 196, 198–199, 201, 203–207, 212, 215–216, 227, 229, 238n21, 241n15, 243n10; definition 194 edgework ​211, 214–215, 244n18; definition 213 Edmonds, Penelope ​83–84, 86, 138–139, 185–186 Edwards, Justin D. ​199, 203

Elkins, Caroline ​83, 85, 148, 183, 239n2 Elsom, Derek ​115–116 Emerson, Ralph Waldo ​92, 195–196, 239n5 Emmett, Robert ​240n14 Engels, Friedrich ​48 environment ​1, 4, 25, 36, 38–39, 46, 54– 56, 63–64, 66–67, 75, 82, 98–99, 101– 103, 105–107, 110–111, 115, 119, 153– 158, 160, 164, 177, 186, 193–201, 203– 206, 211–212, 215, 244n14 Erisman, Fred ​59, 78 Evernden, Neil ​67, 196, 198 Everts, Jonathan ​113, 117, 121, 162, 164, 206, 208, 242n25 exceptionalism ​35, 50, 180, 186; definition 6 extrapolation ​4–5, 9–10, 13, 15, 17–18, 40–41, 44, 63, 68–69, 72, 75–76, 80, 111–112, 115–116, 118–119, 123, 125, 157–159, 167, 171, 179–181, 191, 227, 236n2, 238n14, 240n20; definition 16 Falling Skies ​8, 229 Fanon, Frantz ​89, 147, 185 Fear the Walking Dead ​8, 229 “Final Frontier” ​30–31, 33–35, 37, 39, 49, 54, 58–59, 84, 179–181, 229, 237n3 Firefly ​1, 3–4, 8–9, 13, 17, 20, 28, 30–31, 51–55, 57, 59–61, 63–74, 78–80, 82– 83, 97, 110–111, 115, 121, 132, 188, 205– 206, 219, 225, 226–228, 230, 237n11, 238n13, 238n14, 238n21, 239n12, 242n17 Firestone, Amanda ​112, 178, 182, 185, 188, 190, 195, 219, 244n22 Fluck, Winfried ​19, 21–22, 61 Foote, Kenneth ​98, 101, 139, 186, 195, 197 Foucault, Michel ​18–19, 127, 132–133, 217, 219 Franklin, H. Bruce ​32 Froese, Jocelyn Sakal ​51–54, 56, 58, 67, 69 frontier ​1, 3–11, 13, 16–18, 20, 24–28, 30–39, 43, 44, 46–54, 58–65, 68, 71, 76, 78–94, 96–100, 102–103, 106–107, 109–123, 125–128, 132–140, 142–146, 149–151, 153–154, 156–164, 167–170, 172, 174–180, 182, 184–189, 191–196, 198–200, 202, 204–207, 209, 215–218, 220–230, 235n3, 235n4, 236n5, 236n6, 236n7, 237n8, 237n3, 237n8, 238n12, 238n13, 239n12, 240n15, 241n6, 241n7, 243n3, 244n2; definition 22–23 frontier city ​8, 38, 50, 136, 138, 143–144, 151, 154, 168, 170, 179, 185, 216; definition 137

264 Index frontier fiction ​8, 11, 66, 80–81, 84, 90, 97, 108, 115, 116, 121–123, 128, 134, 136, 150, 165, 167, 170, 172, 174, 176, 180–181, 191, 194, 202, 205–206, 208– 209, 210–213, 215, 220, 223, 225, 230, 243n13 frontier hero ​32, 109, 130, 135, 140, 145, 153, 163, 174, 186, 196, 200, 202, 204, 210–212, 214–215, 223, 225, 235n4, 241n6, 243n12, 243n13, 244n18; definition 104 frontier myth ​3, 4–5, 9, 10–11, 18, 20, 24–28, 30–33, 36–39, 43, 49–53, 59, 63, 78–79, 82–83, 87–88, 103, 105– 106, 116, 122, 124, 127–128, 130, 132, 134–137, 139–141, 143, 148, 152–153, 155–158, 162, 168, 170, 172, 174, 176– 179, 187, 191, 199–200, 204, 208, 221– 222, 225–226, 228, 230, 236n7, 237n8, 240n15; definition 6 Frontier Thesis (Turner) ​23–24, 32, 55, 235n3, 239n5 Galli, Alessandro ​109 Ganser, Alexandra ​235n3 Gardner, Daniel K. ​116 Garrard, Greg ​103, 105, 201 Gateway Arch ​141, 144 Gautestad, Arild O. ​101 genre ​3, 7, 9, 11, 13–14, 17, 26, 28–29, 38, 45, 51, 104, 109, 127, 129, 171, 201, 225, 230, 235n5, 236n1, 236n7 geocriticism ​9, 13 geoengineering ​17, 151, 158, 227, 242n18, 242n19 geography ​9, 13, 18, 28, 87, 93, 98, 120, 156 George, Susan A. ​27 Geraghty, Lincoln ​7, 28, 32, 39, 238n19 Gitlin, Jay ​143–145 Global Footprint Network ​109 Goodrum, Michael ​51 Gordin, Michael D. ​45, 132, 170, 217 Granade, Andrew S. ​136, 147, 241n6, 241n11 Graulund, Rune ​199, 203 Griffin, Clarke (The 100) ​182, 186–188, 191, 194–197, 200–203, 210–215, 218, 220–223, 243n3, 243n4 the grotesque ​202–203, 205, 227; definition 199 Guattari, Félix ​86, 88, 91, 236n4 Guthke, Karl S. ​28 Hadyk-Delodder, Gareth ​52–53, 70, 238n17

Hager, Lisa ​63 Hailey, Charlie ​185–187 Hall, Stuart ​21, 61, 66, 146–147, 183–184, 239n3 The Handmaid’s Tale ​8, 229 Haraway, Donna ​101 Hayles, N. Katherine ​63 Heinlein, Robert ​26–27, 236n2 Heise, Ursula K. ​67, 98–99, 102, 115–116, 121, 194, 239n7, 239n9 Hell on Wheels ​240n1 Heller, Agnes ​199, 202, 204 Hengeveld, Rob ​118–120, 164, 240n16, 240n20 Herzberg, Bob ​189 heterogeneity ​4, 9, 13, 18–19, 21, 33, 36– 37, 42, 49–51, 54, 59, 64, 79, 83, 88, 110, 143–144, 146, 149, 187, 192, 218, 223, 230 Higgins, David M. ​172 “High Frontier” ​18; definition 179 Highmore, Ben ​142–145, 241n5 Hilger, Michael ​189 Hillis, Ken ​196 historical reenactment ​143; definition 148 history ​3–6, 10, 22–28, 32, 39, 51, 55, 83, 85, 90, 99–100, 105, 127, 130, 137–143, 145, 147–148, 150, 169, 172, 174–177, 189, 190–191, 193, 197–198, 217–218, 221, 224, 226, 235n3, 240n14 Hixson, Walter L. ​23, 148, 171, 175, 184– 185, 191 Hollinger, Veronica ​14 home ​55, 59, 76, 83–87, 98–99, 102, 119, 121, 128, 145, 151, 164, 172, 175, 181, 186–187, 192, 195, 197, 204, 218, 241n7, 243n1 horror ​85, 104, 109, 152, 201 Howe, Andrew ​52–53, 56, 58–59, 178, 243n4 Howkins, Adrian ​55, 238n15 Hulme, Mike ​120, 240n19, 242n22 hyper-rationalism ​160, 167; definition 153 identity ​6, 20, 24–26, 66–67, 71, 73, 78, 80, 87, 98, 129–130, 151, 174, 178, 182– 183, 187–188, 192, 197, 202, 221–222, 244n22 ideology ​6, 26, 32, 35, 37, 73, 89, 91, 114, 117, 124, 140, 236n5, 237n3 immobility ​145, 150, 198 Incorporated ​8, 229 individualism ​11, 26, 43, 58, 99, 153, 173–175, 177, 214, 221–224



Index265

intentional community ​71, 78, 121, 128, 134, 169–170, 176, 222; definition 77 interactive complexity ​215; definition 207 International Space Station (ISS) ​180, 191 Invasion ​ 229 Irathient (Defiance) ​136, 139, 141, 144– 149, 153, 166, 171, 189, 225, 241n9 Jahn, Manfred ​239n6 James, Edward ​45, 128 Jameson, Fredric ​45, 74, 76, 122, 126– 127, 170, 218, 244n20 Jefferson, Thomas ​24, 92, 141–142, 239n9 Jencson, Linda Jean ​52–53, 56–57, 69, 75–76, 238n14 Jericho ​8, 229 Johnson-Smith, Jan ​7–8, 28 Jones, Hillary A. ​51–53, 59, 73, 77, 238n13 Jones, Karen A. ​235n3 Jørgensen, Sven Erik ​194, 198 Jowett, Lorna ​51, 55, 65, 76, 238n16 Kahm, Howard ​52–54, 56–57, 67, 76 Kanzler, Katja ​32, 34, 49 Kapell, Matthew Wilhelm ​3, 6, 24–25, 31–33, 35, 37, 40, 44, 47, 179, 237n8 Kaplan, E. Ann ​240n21 Katerberg, William H. ​1, 3, 9, 27–29, 115–116, 122–123, 128, 132, 134, 142, 150, 164–165, 169–170, 172, 176, 188, 217, 220–221, 223, 237n7, 244n2 Kauth, Jean-Marie ​203, 244n14 Kawin, Bruce F. ​201 Keller, David R. ​108 Kerslake, Patricia ​56, 60, 89–90, 95, 146–147, 183–184, 188, 193 Kirk, James T. (Star Trek) ​35–39, 43, 46, 48–49 Klinke, Andreas ​165–167, 210, 214, 242n25 Kneis, Philipp ​32–34, 49 Konigsberg, Ira ​27 Kraybill, Donald B. ​46, 237n9 Kristeva, Julia ​152 Kutchen, Larry F. ​235n3 Kwan, Allen ​32–33 Lackey, Mercedes ​67 Lahiri, Aditi ​159 Lamb, Jonathan ​137, 143, 148 Landon, Brooks ​15–16 The Last Ship ​229–230 Latham, Rob ​14

Lavigne, Carlen ​136, 138, 146, 178, 188– 189, 243n4 Lefebvre, Henri ​9, 13, 18–21, 42, 101, 114, 117 Lehan, Richard ​5–6, 22–23, 26, 35, 38, 66, 92, 103, 110, 116, 118–119, 124, 128, 157, 170, 174, 181–182, 195, 200 Lekan, Thomas ​240n14 Le Menager, Stephanie ​6, 24, 136, 235n4 Levitas, Ruth ​45, 169, 217 Lundgren, Regina E. ​208 Luque, Sarah ​104 Lyng, Stephen ​213–214 Lyon, David ​127, 219 MacLeod, Gordon ​75, 125–126, 169, 171, 174 MacNeil, Denise Mary ​235n4 Madley, Benjamin ​191 Magill, David ​71, 77 Mahoney, Timothy R. ​137–139, 151 Maio, Barbara ​51, 76 Malmgren, Carl D. ​14–16, 236n1 Mandala, Susan ​74 Manifest Destiny ​63, 92, 181–182, 236n5; definition 35 Mar, Tracy Banivanua ​83–84, 86, 138– 139, 186 Marek, Michael ​51, 55, 71 Marx, Karl ​48, 218 Marx, Leo ​25, 239n9 Masco, Joseph ​159–160, 240n14, 242n18, 242n19 Massey, Doreen ​8–9, 13, 18–21, 36, 42, 49–50, 59, 89, 94–95, 102, 120, 134, 144, 182, 187, 200 Mayer, Sylvia ​111–113, 167, 241n15 Mbembe, Achille ​42, 76, 217, 219, 237n6 McKinney, Richard L. ​22 McMakin, Andrea H. ​208 McNutt, Myles ​178 Mert, Ceren ​178, 182, 185, 187, 190, 195, 219, 244n22 Metcalfe, Sarah ​114 Mittell, Jason ​8 mobility ​4, 21, 59, 77, 91–93, 97–98, 133, 145, 150, 153, 157–158, 172–174, 187, 226, 242n26; definition 88 Mogen, David ​26–27 Molitor, Fred ​104 Money, Mary Alice ​76 Moravec, Hans ​63 Moylan, Tom ​73, 122–126, 129, 134, 169, 172, 217, 222–223, 244n20 Müller, Sebastian ​244n1

266 Index Müller-Mahn, Detlef ​40, 67, 110, 113, 117, 120, 162, 164, 206, 208, 242n25 multiculturalism ​32, 49, 52–53, 74–75, 90, 96, 116, 140, 147, 149, 170–171, 174, 176, 180, 239n23, 241n12 myth ​22–25, 27–28, 55, 131, 145, 172, 238n15; definition 6; see also frontier myth Nash, Roderick Frazier ​152, 201 Native American ​23, 74, 137, 141, 143, 147–148, 171, 175, 188–191, 193, 225, 239n3 natural city ​65, 102–103, 106–107, 154– 155, 204; definition 97 nature ​79–80, 92, 97–100, 103, 105–109, 114, 151, 153–155, 193–196, 198–204, 225, 227 Neal, Christopher ​51 necropolitics ​76, 221; definition 217 New Western History ​3–4, 23, 27, 32, 85, 148, 189, 235n3 9/11 ​72–73, 80, 127, 132, 172, 219 non-place ​198, definition 197 novum ​16, 155, 180, 236n1; definition 15 Nye, David E. ​40, 42, 69, 207 Oberdiek, Hans ​69 Oelschlaeger, Max ​200 The 100 ​1, 3–5, 7–8, 10–11, 13, 17–18, 20–22, 26, 30, 40, 43, 51, 54, 84, 97, 111, 136, 146, 155, 159–160, 162, 168, 172, 178–191, 193–228, 230, 242n1, 243n3 O’Neill, Gerard K. ​179–181, 191, 196 Orwell, George ​124 the Other ​146–147, 149–150, 152–153, 175, 179, 183–185, 188, 190–193, 199– 200, 203, 225–226, 229–230 Othering ​52, 60, 79, 88–89, 95–97, 136– 137, 143, 145–148, 150, 178, 183–185, 187–193, 213, 225–226, 229 Otto, Eric C. ​65, 123, 153, 160 outbreak ​167, 171 outbreak narrative ​229–230 outer space ​6–7, 26, 28, 30–35, 37, 48– 49, 54, 57, 59, 62, 78, 82–84, 115, 122– 123, 178–180, 182, 209, 215, 229, 238n21 overpopulation ​10, 16–17, 67–68, 80, 82, 110, 113–114, 118–122, 123–125, 179, 206, 209, 228, 238n21 Pack, Spencer J. ​218 Pak, Chris ​54, 68, 151, 159, 164, 242n18 panopticon ​132 Pasquetti, Silvia ​185–186

the Pastoral ​25, 46 Pedersen, Susan ​83, 85, 148, 183, 239n2 Perdigao, Lisa K. ​61, 64, 70 permanence ​11, 83–84, 88, 133, 138, 142, 145, 179, 181, 185–187, 191–193, 197, 220, 226, 243n1 Perrow, Charles ​206–207 Pettersen, Kenneth ​160–161, 206, 208 Pharr, Mary F. ​112 Picker, Giovanni ​185–186 Pilkington, Ace G. ​32 place ​6, 9, 23, 28, 39, 41, 45–47, 55, 60, 64, 68, 70–71, 74, 83, 85, 87–88, 91, 93, 96, 98–100, 105–107, 109–110, 113, 119, 121–122, 127–128, 130, 132, 139–140, 145, 149–150, 152, 156, 158, 163, 168– 172, 174, 182–183, 186, 190–192, 195, 197, 201–202, 212, 219, 224, 226–227, 230; definition 101–102 place-making ​11, 93, 98, 122, 126, 140, 170, 175–176, 197, 216, 218, 221, 223– 224, 226, 228–229 planet ​8, 31, 34, 38, 41, 46–48, 57–58, 64–66, 69, 72–73, 82, 115–116, 121, 151, 153–154, 164, 172, 194–195, 203, 212, 227, 239n8, 243n10 Plumwood, Val ​65–66, 68, 100, 104, 153, 160, 200 Pordzik, Ralph ​45, 75 Posner, Richard A. ​112, 159, 242n20 the post-apocalyptic ​1, 4, 7, 9–11, 13, 18, 112, 136–137, 141–142, 151, 155–167, 171, 178–179, 199, 201, 211, 214, 227– 230; definition 17 the posthuman ​36, 52, 70, 237n4; definition 63 Postman, Neil ​44, 50, 244n16 Prakash, Gyan ​45, 132, 170, 217 Pratt, Marie-Louise ​4, 7, 58, 143, 147, 149, 236n4, 236n6 Prescott, Tara ​52, 56, 65, 73–74 Pringle, David ​7, 27 prison ​123, 127, 133, 180 prison system ​127; definition 133 privatopia ​174 quarantine ​166, 244n1 Rabb, J. Douglas ​52, 60 race ​23, 28, 31, 32–33, 52–53, 60, 90, 139, 147, 162, 166, 178, 181, 189, 191, 193, 241n8, 241n9, 242n21 racism ​137, 143, 148, 150, 171, 226, 241n10 Ranisch, Robert ​237n4 Reavers (Firefly) ​52–54, 57–58, 60–62, 67, 73, 76–77, 79, 188, 225, 238n17



Index267

Rees, William ​109 regeneration ​65, 127, 139–140, 157–158 regeneration through violence ​25, 43, 76, 131, 148, 190, 222–223; definition 35 Reid-Musson, Emily ​241n5 relationality ​4, 9, 13, 18, 20, 33, 36–37, 42, 49–50, 54, 56, 58, 61, 63–64, 66, 71, 79, 83, 91, 96–97, 110, 117, 126, 133– 135, 150, 153, 157–158, 162, 165–166, 191–192, 226, 228, 230 religion ​14, 26, 31, 35, 43–44, 130, 182– 183, 192, 194, 196, 201, 236n5, 243n7 renewal ​18, 35, 87, 127, 140, 157–158, 236n5 Renn, Ortwin ​165–167, 210, 214, 242n25 representation ​1, 6, 9–10, 16, , 22, 28, 30, 33, 35, 38, 41, 45–46, 52, 60–61, 64– 66, 68, 70, 72–74, 79, 80, 85–86, 88, 90–91, 94–99, 103, 106, 108–109, 111– 112, 117–119, 121, 122, 125–127, 130, 134–136, 138–139, 142–143, 146–147, 152, 154–155, 158–160, 165, 167, 176, 180, 182–183, 188–189, 199, 200, 202– 205, 210, 220–221, 225, 227, 237n6, 239n11; definition 21 Revolution ​ 8, 229, 241n14 rhythm ​143–145, 151 rhythmanalysis ​241n5 rhythmicity ​145, 150, 226, 241n5; definition 143 Richardson, J. Michael ​52, 60 Ridge, Martin ​23 Rieder, John ​3–4, 6–7, 14, 28, 34, 55, 63, 68, 99, 107, 117, 122–123, 132, 134, 136, 167, 172, 175–176, 179, 180, 190, 207, 209, 220, 239n12, 240n15, 243n11, 243n13 risk ​1, 4–5, 9–11, 15, 17, 29–31, 33, 39– 44, 49–50, 53, 56, 59, 67–71, 77, 80, 110–121, 123–124, 157, 159–170, 176, 198, 205–216, 227–230, 237n6, 238n18, 238n19, 240n13, 240n16, 242n20, 242n22, 242n23, 242n24, 242n25, 244n16, 244n17, 244n18, 244n1 risk communication ​208 risk community ​214, 216 risk management ​11, 67–69, 80, 113, 115, 117, 120–121, 163, 164–167, 205–206, 209–216, 227 risk narrative ​111–113, 121, 167; definition 111 risk perception ​209–210; definition 162 riskscape ​4–5, 8, 11, 18, 31, 54, 67, 80, 82, 110–111, 113–121, 159, 160–164, 167, 205–206, 208–212; 215–216, 225–227, 229–230, 242n25; definition 41

Rose, Mark ​14, 236n1 Rosen, Elizabeth K. ​17–18, 112, 236n3 Rusco, Frank ​242n19 Ryan, Marie-Laure ​98, 101, 139, 186, 195, 197 Said, Edward W. ​89 St. Louis ​22, 136–137, 141–142, 240n3, 241n7 Sapolsky, Burry S. ​104 Sargent, Lyman Tower ​5, 45, 73, 77–78, 122–123, 126, 128–129, 169, 218, 222, 237n7 Sawyer, Andy ​7 Scharper, Stephen Bede ​97, 103, 106, 154 Schwartz, James S. J. ​241n16 science fiction (SF) ​3–11, 15–16, 18, 20, 22, 26–31, 38–39, 41, 43–45, 48, 51– 52, 56, 59–64, 66, 73, 78, 80–85, 87– 88, 90, 93, 95–99, 101–103, 105, 107– 113, 115–117, 119–123, 125–128, 132– 137, 139, 142–143, 146–147, 150–152, 155, 158–162, 164–165, 167–170, 172, 174–182, 187–189, 191, 193–196, 198– 200, 202, 204–216, 220–221, 223, 225–230, 235n1, 235n5, 236n1, 236n2, 236n7, 237n5, 238n19, 239n12, 241n14, 242n18, 242n23, 242n1, 243n11, 243n13, 244n2; definition 13–14 Scott, Allen J. ​118 sense of place ​98–99, 102, 109, 139, 197, 239n8 sense of planet ​116, 121, 239n8 Serenity (ship) ​52–54, 57–63, 67, 71, 73, 75, 76–81, 121, 238n13 settler collective ​139, 144, 150, 183, 191 settler colonialism ​86, 137, 143, 147; definition 85 settler colony ​8, 82–86, 93, 137–138, 178–179, 186; definition 83 settler narrative ​83 SF frontier ​3, 4–5, 8–11, 13, 18, 20, 27– 28, 30–31, 59–64, 66, 78, 80–84, 87– 88, 90, 93, 96–99, 102–103, 108–113, 115–117, 120–123, 125, 128, 132–137, 139, 142–143, 146, 150–151, 155, 158, 160–162, 164–165, 167–168, 170, 172, 174, 176–181, 187–189, 191, 193–196, 198–200, 202, 204–213, 215–216, 220– 221, 223, 225, 228–230, 239n12, 242n1, 243n13; definition 6–7 Shaluf, Ibrahim M. ​111 The Shannara Chronicles ​8, 229 Sharp, Joanne P. ​34, 86–87, 239n2 Sharp, Patrick B. ​27, 122, 221

268 Index Shaw, Philip ​102–103, 105, 199–200, 202, 204, 244n15 simulacrum ​37–38 simulation ​38–39, 50 simultaneity ​19–20, 144, 150 Sitze, Adam ​219 Skilton, Mark ​198 Slotkin, Richard ​5–6, 22–26, 35, 76, 131, 140, 190, 222, 236n5, 237n8 Slovic, Paul ​120, 162, 166, 209–210, 212 slum ​118–119, 121, 123, 142, 171, 173, 176, 227, 240n4 slumification ​10, 16, 110, 113–114, 118, 121–122 Smith, Henry Nash ​23–25 Smith, Philip ​51 smog ​116 smooth space ​21, 86, 91–94, 226, 236n4; definition 88 Sobchak, Vivian ​119 Sobolev, Dennis ​57, 73, 77 Social Darwinism ​75, 163, 200; definition 242n21 social dreaming ​5, 11, 51, 73, 80, 122, 124, 127–128, 134–135, 169, 173–177, 216–218, 221–224, 228, 237n7, 242n23; definition 45 Soja, Edward W. ​9, 13, 18–21, 72, 93, 96, 117 Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz ​237n4 space opera ​7, 229 spatiality ​5, 7, 28, 72, 93, 117, 145, 150 species ​33, 40, 47–48, 87, 97, 101–102, 124, 128, 136–137, 139–140, 143–144, 146, 149–150, 152, 154–155, 158, 163, 166, 171–172, 177, 183, 239n10, 241n9, 243n10 speculation ​3, 7, 16–18, 22, 28, 111, 115, 122, 137, 150, 159, 161, 167–168, 212, 225, 230, 235n3, 242n18, 244n14; definition 14–15 speculative fiction ​3; definition 15 Star Trek ​1, 3–4, 7, 9–10, 13, 17, 20, 28, 30–40, 43–45, 49–50, 54, 58, 67, 69, 82–84, 110, 121, 205–206, 226, 228– 230, 237n2, 237n5, 237n8 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ​180–181 Star Trek: Discovery ​84, 229 state of exception ​76, 185, 217; definition 220 Stefanovic, Ingrid Leman ​65, 97, 103, 106, 154 The Strain ​8, 229–230 striated space ​21, 88, 91, 93, 97, 117, 186, 226, 236n4; definition 86 Sturgis, Amy H. ​51–52, 59, 76–77

the sublime ​105–106, 109–110, 158, 199, 200, 202–205, 227, 244n15, definition 102–103 surveillance ​44–45, 72–73, 75, 80–81, 124, 126–127, 131–133, 219, 223, 228 Sutherland, Sharon ​71, 73 Suvin, Darko ​15–16, 155, 236n1 Swan, Sarah ​71, 73 Tabur, Şemsettin ​18–19 Tally, Robert T., Jr. ​127, 168–169, 170 Taylor, Paul C. ​241n8 technological ecosystem ​11, 193;194, 204, 206–207, 215–216, 227; definition 198 technology ​14, 16, 27, 40–46, 50, 63, 67–70, 72, 79, 100, 104, 126, 132, 157, 160–161, 193–194, 198–199, 201–206, 208, 215, 227, 235n6, 237n5, 237n6, 238n19 Telotte, J.P. ​8, 28, 32–33, 51 temporariness ​11, 91–92, 96, 137–139, 142, 179, 181, 185–187, 191–192, 197, 220, 226, 243n1 Terra Nova ​1, 3–5, 7–10, 13, 16–18, 20– 22, 26, 30, 40, 43, 51, 54, 82–88, 93– 94, 96–100, 102–113, 115–116, 118–119, 121–124, 126–127, 129–130, 132, 134– 139, 146, 149–152, 154, 158–159, 162, 167–169, 171–172, 175–179, 183–185, 187–188, 190–191, 193–195, 199–201, 204–205, 210, 215–217, 219, 223, 225– 228, 230, 240n18, 240n21 terraforming ​5, 17, 55, 67–69, 79–80, 136, 151, 153, 155–156, 158–164, 167, 175, 209, 215, 227–228, 241n16, 241n17, 242n18; definition 54 Third Space ​149, 236n4; definition 93 Thirdspace ​82, 93, 96, 150, 185, 191, 193, 236n4; definition 20 Thomas, P. L. ​15 tight coupling ​215; definition 207 Tiles, Mary ​69 Tilley, Helen ​45, 132, 170, 217 transcendentalism ​11, 92, 105, 195–196, 200, 203–204, 227; 239n5, definition 194 transculturation ​241n11; definition 149 transgression ​22, 94–95, 199; definition 93 transgressivity ​10, 93–95, 97, 150, 193, 226, 236n4; definition 21 True Grit (2010 movie) ​240n1 Tuan, Yi-Fu ​88, 92, 98, 100, 102, 119 Turner, Frederick Jackson ​3, 5–6, 22–23, 32, 46, 48, 52, 58–59, 64–65, 87, 92,



Index269

104, 108, 127, 140, 145, 157, 163, 170, 174, 184, 209, 235n3, 239n5 Tyrrell, William Blake ​31, 37, 43, 237n8 Uncertain Commons ​14–15 uncertainty ​16, 40, 71, 80, 111, 160–162, 164, 167, 201, 211, 205–208, 210–211, 214–216, 226–227, 230, 240n21, 242n23 utopia ​3–5, 9–11, 21, 27,-28, 31, 33–34, 40–41, 46–47, 49–50, 73–74, 76–77, 121–123, 125–135, 168–171, 176–177, 179, 217–218, 220–226, 228, 237n7, 242n23, 244n20, 244n21; definition 44–45 utopianism ​5, 10–11, 31, 50–51, 73, 126, 128–130, 132, 134–135, 168, 172, 174– 175, 177, 228; definition 45 V (television series) ​8, 229 Van der Laan, J. M. ​41, 237n5 Veracini, Lorenzo ​55–56, 83–84, 87–88, 139–140, 143, 146–148, 171, 181, 183– 184, 186, 188, 235n2, 239n2, 241n7 videography ​90, 93, 95–97, 104, 121, 144, 149, 152, 156, 192 Vietnam ​32 Vint, Sherryl ​14, 41–42, 49, 70, 98, 101, 105, 124, 152, 201, 239n11 violence ​25, 35, 39, 43, 47, 53, 55, 59, 70, 75–76, 81, 125, 129, 131, 135, 137, 142– 143, 147–150, 170, 173–174, 177, 184– 185, 189–190, 192–193, 222–224, 226, 243n6 Wackernagel, Mathis ​109 Wald, Priscilla ​37, 166 The Walking Dead ​8, 229–230, 241n14 Walton, Nigel ​198 Ward, Kevin ​75, 125–126, 169, 171, 174 wasteland ​10, 59, 138, 151, 156–158,

164, 167, 230, 236n1, 241n5, 241n14, 242n24; definition 155 Wegner, Phillip E. ​128, 169–170, 244n20 Weinbaum, Batya ​27 the West ​20, 23, 26, 46, 55, 128, 141, 170 Western ​6, 25–26, 28, 30–32, 38–39, 51–53, 60, 79, 104, 130, 136, 145, 147, 189–190, 225–226, 236n7, 237n12, 239n3, 241n6, 244n18 Westfahl, Gary ​27, 32, 237n7 Westphal, Bertrand ​9, 13, 18, 21–22, 86, 93, 97, 149, 239n6 Wheatley, Helen ​8, 236n7 Whedon, Joss ​31 Whitehall, Geoffrey ​32, 35 Wiglesworth, Jeffrey R. ​108 Wilcox, Rhonda V. ​51, 55, 61 Wildermuth, Mark E. ​127, 132 wilderness ​4, 10–11, 21, 23, 26, 31, 34, 46, 59, 64–67, 79–80, 97, 102–110, 137, 145, 151–156, 158, 182, 193–194, 199– 204, 225–227, 230, 237n1, 237n12, 239n9, 239n11, 240n15, 241n13 Williams, Lynn F. ​27, 104 Willis, John ​235n3 Wills, John ​51, 58, 238n12 Winthrop, John ​35, 236n5 Wolfe, Cary ​36 Wolfe, Gary K. ​6, 14, 26–28, 117, 236n1, 237n3 Wolfe, Patrick ​85 Worland, Rick ​32, 34 world risk society ​5, 71, 80, 110–111, 113, 121, 160–162, 164, 167–168, 211, 214– 215; definition 40 Young, Alex Trimble ​6, 23–24, 236n6 Z Nation ​8, 229–230